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05.08.15 Executive Kittleman launches open data portal to increase government transparency

May 8, 2015

Media Contacts:
Deidre McCabe, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Christopher Merdon, Director, Department of Technology and Communication Services, 410-313-3550

Executive Kittleman launches open data portal to increase government transparency

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today announced the launch of OpenHoward, a new data portal on the county’s website. OpenHoward was developed to increase transparency and provide data to the public in a user-friendly way, making more information easily available to residents.

“We now have a centralized platform for collecting and sharing government data with the public,” Kittleman said. “I believe strongly in open and transparent government, and this is an important step to help increase responsiveness and improve efficiency. I thank County Councilmembers Greg Fox and Jen Terrasa for their leadership in passing Council Bill 32-2014, which started this process.”

The goal of this portal is to transform government data assets into productive information resources that people can easily access, share and reuse. “By sharing data in an open and transparent manner, we empower our residents and employees to access information anywhere, anytime,” said Christopher Merdon, Howard County’s Director of Technology and Communication Services.

This open data “beta” launch is intended to showcase how data will be delivered. Initially, the site displays 52 datasets, 17 maps and three charts. For example, records of emergency vehicle dispatch and arrival times are available, as are non-emergency service requests made through Tell HoCo, a mobile and web-based application. Residents can review service requests for everything from sidewalk repairs and filling potholes to the removal of dead animals and tree limbs from a County owned roadway.

Although currently in its beginning stage, the site will continue to grow as new data sets become available from county agencies. “It’s our hope that the usability and relevance to residents will increase as well, as more data becomes available,” Kittleman said.

“OpenHoward will be a critical tool to help us make informed decisions and communicate information to residents,” he continued. “I’m excited the public will play a role in helping us make this portal a robust, usable tool in building a more accountable county government.”

Data collected and made available to the public through the OpenHoward portal is the first phase of a larger initiative championed by Kittleman called “HoCoStat.” Future phases of HoCoStat will include analyzing data to heighten accountability and measure outcomes for all county departments and agencies. For residents, that could mean tracking the amount of time it takes to get permits and licenses or the efficiency of local bus transportation.

The OpenHoward data portal can be accessed at www.howardcountymd.gov by clicking on the OpenData logo at the bottom of the page. Data sets are organized by category, such as public safety, licenses and permits and transportation.

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