From mobile apps to testbeds on wheels, creative thinkers at government agencies are finding ways to better serve the public.
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The city of Chicago's open government initiatives are notable in their own right, but even more so when combined with the efforts of county and state government. Chicago, Cook County, and the state of Illinois are collaborating on a website that serves as a one-stop shop for government data from the region.
The site, at metrochicagodata.org, hosts more than 1,200 data sets in categories such as public safety, health, education, transportation, taxes, and property. Some of the most popular data sets on the site, which is hosted by Socrata, include the names and salaries of city employees in Chicago, a map of crimes in the city, and a guide to police stations.
Last fall, the three governments (along with the MacArthur Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, Motorola, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) held a contest, called Apps for Metro Chicago, to encourage developers to build apps that incorporate the data. The contest resulted in more than 50 new mobile and Web apps, including one that lets people rent out their parking spaces and another that locates recycling locations.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.