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Plenario: Changing How We Use Open Data

Source: Sean Thornton, Smart-Data City Solutions

Plenario breaks free from borders to provide data from datasets and portals around the country, all on the same continuum of time and space (or, simply put, one map).  This means that with one query, users can access, combine, download, and visualize disparate sets of data all in the same place.  Plenario currently has data from the portals of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Austin, Washington, D.C., Illinois, and New York State, among others.  Since its design accommodates data from any open portal, international data can also be imported.   Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde, for instance, has installed Plenario to integrate data from multiple UK cities.

Former Chicago CIO Brett Goldstein talks about new civic data hub Plenario

Source: WBEZ

Many conversations around data are marked by a feeling that there is more information available than society can handle or properly analyze. The same feeling goes for open government data. Stores such as the city of Chicago data portal has a large supply of information, but joining the different sets together to find relationships – especially between agencies and sources – can be time consuming and a barrier to entry for some.

This week a group headed by Brett Goldstein and Charlie Catlett at the University of Chicago Computation Institute’s Urban Center for Computation and Data and Argonne National Laboratory released Plenario, a tool they hope will help those interested in civic data access it more easily.

MORE>, the next stage in open data

Source: Jonathan Giuffrida, Smart Chicago Collaborative was conceived as a centralized hub for open datasets from around the country. Funded by the NSF and the MacArthur Foundation, and led by a team of prominent open data scientists, researchers, and developers, it is a collaborative, open-source solution to the problems inherent to the rapid growth in government data portals.


Chicago’s Street Lights Will Collect Data on Weather and How Many People Walk By

Source: Lily Hay Newman, Slate-Future Tense

If Google Glass is too conspicuous for you, try something more subtle. How about loading street lights with sensors? In Chicago, decorative metal pieces on Michigan Avenue street lights are being fitted with sensors that will measure things like air quality and wind, while also counting passersby.

The Chicago Tribune reports that starting in July, the hidden sensors will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation, and wind. They will also use the wireless signals from cellphones and other mobile devices to count people going by. The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are collaborating on the project, which will hopefully provide really specific information about how bad pollution gets in specific parts of the city, or where the inefficiencies are in an intersection.