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The OpenBudgetOakland Project

This is a great article about the efforts of fellow open data group Open Oakland, written by fellow datanaut Jeff Barke.

SYNOPSIS: Today a group of Oakland’s civic hackers (the good guys) launched a powerful and simple new tool into the newly announced city budget debate: is an app that allows you to easily dive into different allocations and departments to see just where all the money goes! It’s rad, seriously, it’s something every single resident will be able to learn something new from and almost certainly will raise a few eyebrows about how our city is doing.  The team who built this, primarily Shawn McDougal and Adam Stiles did a fantastic job of also building in a conversation feature that allows users to ask questions and to discuss every single line item of the city budget- the new one proposed today and the past one. And not a single ugly PDF in sight, just clear web graphics you can understand!

How media uses data to spark a dialogue

At the heart of all great investigations and journalism lies accurate data. That data helps a journalist formulate their idea and is used to present the information with greatest impact. So when I read this story from the Journal Sentinel on Sunday, I knew this was a great opportunity to talk about how accurate, timely data is important to the media.

We all probably have our preferred media outlets. We like them because their opinion resonates with us or their stories are interesting. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel can present stories what delight, inform and sometimes infuriate people. But when I see images like this one from the article on poverty, I think we are presented with a great opportunity to begin a debate on the best ways to address poverty and economic development:

So whether you agree with the Journal’s take on poverty or not, at least they are presenting the data to everyone in a way that can spark debate, solutions and action.

By the way, the JSOnline multimedia team is doing a bang-up job at crunching numbers and putting them on interactive maps: check out this city comparison map.

This is a great article about how technology can create economic development in smalelr cities. While Milwaukee is not small, we are also not the size of Chicago, Oakland or New York. It includes two case studies: a city of 80,000 and a city of 213,000.

This post was originally listed on and written by Sascha Haselmayer.

Here is a short summary of the post for your viewing pleasure:

Looking around on articles on the world’s smartest cities, we tend to celebrate the high-tech pioneers implementing large infrastructure or data projects. Why not take a moment to look at the less obviously spectacular, but rather more meaningful cases in cities in crisis-ridden European regions that weather the storm well.

Smaller cities can play an important role in driving innovation in or near metropolitan areas of a major cities and creating new markets. Sant Cugat (population 80,000, near Barcelona) and Eindhoven (population 213,000, near Amsterdam) are good examples.

What makes these two cities successful not just by our standards, but the strings of international awards they received for innovation, public management and leadership, appears to be their blend of moderate technology venturing (in terms of scale), the readiness to look abroad for inspiration and solutions, and their deep engagement with their citizens throughout the process.