An advocacy workgroup to change the way Milwaukee uses and shares critical data. Learn More ' '

About MDI

MDI is built on the idea that easy access to data allows us to make smarter decisions that move Milwaukee forward.

Our Vision: We want Milwaukee to be fertile ground for technology and software companies, where we combine our local technology and design talents to create some of the most innovative software in the world.

The Milwaukee Data Initiative is a grassroots advocacy effort driven by creative designers, software developers, urban planners, data managers and technologists to get organizations in the private, nonprofit and public sectors to adopt data sharing standards. Our goal is to educate and support data sharing to create opportunity within the community and further the mission of profit, non-profit and government organizations.


The idea began out of several conversations with Milwaukee technology, community and business professionals. We found a need in those discussions for system integration (to improve efficiency around reporting and data collection), extendability (to make system improvements more cost-effective) and to reduce the amount of proprietary systems which hinder the first two. When this information was relayed to the technology community, the question was asked over and over again: “With all the energy around supporting design and technology business and entrepreneurs, why did Milwaukee not have a data initiative?”


We believe Milwaukee’s data sharing practices in all sectors is something that inhibits our ability to attract ideas, people and solutions. Sharing data (whether it is unprotected, aggregate or identifiable) would allow Milwaukee’s active creative and technology community to build creative, innovative tools that help identify and address these problems. Examples of what can be produced with accurate, up-to-date data include digital maps, infographics, interactive mobile apps and augmented reality software. These tools create opportunity for technical individuals and businesses. The visual tools they create would greatly aid education and advocacy efforts and help our leaders make smarter decisions. All of these things move Milwaukee forward, which is really why this group was founded.



Frequently Asked Questions

How will adopting MDI standards benefit me?

Adopting tech industry standards for data systems makes it easier (and therefore less expensive) to make changes to systems. Integrating data systems becomes far easier as well, which can have significant improvements on how you report on or share data. Adopting these standards also creates more opportunity for organizations to work with local developers that want to have a positive impact.

What type of systems do MDI standards affect?

Web sites, client information systems, server systems or any tool that you use on a computer or a web site or mobile device that stores your data.

Why are we doing this?

Foundations struggle to measure the impact of their investments. Service organizations struggle to keep up with the various reporting and data management demands from funders. Software developers are looking for new ways to build socially responsible and also profitable solutions. What we want to do is connect them all together and agree to standards that make collaboration between these groups easier.

What does it cost to join?

Nothing. All that we ask is that you fully adopt the MDI principles and participate in helping make this a movement.

Who should join the collaborative?

We want foundations, community service providers, government offices and technology professionals. If you are an individual software developer or volunteer, we encourage you to sign your name on as well.