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Oakland and the Search for the Open City
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name job employer photo_url twitter about
Steve Spiker
Director of Research & Technology
Urban Strategies Council
/images/authors/spike.jpg
spjika
Oakland activist and urban planner. Connecting technology and government. Co-founder of OpenOakland.
/part-2/oakland-and-the-search-for-the-open-city/

位於灣區的中心地帶,有個都市正在許多苦難中掙扎,就如同美國其他古老大城市,尤其是位於鐵鏽地帶^1 的城市一樣:撤資、白人遷移^2、學校在生存邊緣、高犯罪率、大量喪失抵押贖回權、政治與政府腐敗以及許多醜聞。雖然有這些殘酷的現實,奧克蘭2012年時還是被紐約時報題為世界上最棒的五個地區之一,這讓我們既興奮又驚訝。奧克蘭人對我們的文化遺產、多樣性、偉大音樂家傳承、美味食物以及令人讚嘆的藝術,還有我們這美麗的灣區城市感到驕傲。

我們不像芝加哥、紐約或舊金山那麼大- 特大城市人口數龐大,也有相對應的龐大市政府職員。在開放政府運動中更不是主要領導者。我們在開放資料這條令人興奮的路上跌跌撞撞。這條路有許多途徑,有些能讓我們的城市通往真正的開放政府,而有些只有少許改進以及「開放清洗」(指透過發布一些資料來聲稱政府已經達到開放與透明的目的。)

而這旅程顯示,為何開放資料對大有問題的城市很重要,以及一些像公共檔案存取這樣技術性的東西,是如何支撐起我們城市的正向轉變- 對每一個人,而不只是我們這些技客。

At the center of the Bay Area lies an urban city struggling with the woes of many old, great cities in the USA, particularly those in the rust belt: disinvestment, white flight, struggling schools, high crime, massive foreclosures, political and government corruption, and scandals. Despite these harsh realities, Oakland was named among the five best places in the world to visit in 2012 by the New York Times, something we were simultaneously excited about and stunned by. Oaklanders are proud of our heritage, our diversity, our legacy of great musicians, great food, and amazing art, and our truly beautiful city by the bay.

We’re not huge like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco—megacities with large populations and a corresponding large city staff. We don’t have a history of prominent leaders in the open government movement. Still, we’re on the bumpy, exciting road that open data lays out. This road has many possible paths for our city—some lead to truly open government, and some lead to only minor improvements and “openwashing” (referring to the practice of publishing a few datasets and suggesting the government has therefore achieved openness and transparency).

Our journey shows why open data matters to a city with big troubles and how something as geeky as public records access supports a positive transformation in our city—for everyone, not just for us geeks.

###開始開放:取信期

改變我以及所屬組織對「預設開放」看法的事件,是個突如其來的大轉變。自2006年移民美國後,我很榮幸能在都市策略協會(Urban Strategies Council)工作。這個協會是個社會正義非營利組織,促進城市族群以及衝擊低收入族群(多半為有色族群)相關政策上的平等。

領我到這個優秀組織的路很曲折。起先,我在私人企業擔任土地調查與規劃師,然後在倫敦的資訊顧問公司混了一陣,再到公衛領域研究空間流行病學。在私人企業時,我需要和政府界接,取得並提交各種資料,範圍包括郊區規劃到大型工程計畫資料以及衛星影像等。從那之後,我花了數年在西澳衛生署,幫忙建一個全州空間資料庫協助員工,同時讓社會大眾能接觸到政府資料。在這些工作裡面,我體驗到建立山頭和資料佔有慾,從那時起便埋怨至今。在這份工作中,我學到製作、管理並負責政府資料到底是怎麼一回事,也體會到控制和限制存取「我的資料」的慾望,更了解到開放這些受限制的資料,讓他人取得後可以作更多事情。這個工作正好彰顯了安全與管理機密資料以及支持簡易存取兩者之間的極大矛盾。

當我要離開這個角色時,現實情況讓我受到極大衝擊,即使和資料打交道這麼多年,單位其他人並不知道有這麼一個小組存在,而且可以提供協助。後來,我才了解到這是大多數政府機構的共同症狀:溝通實在爛透了。政府不但在對外開放與無障礙上掙扎,內部也做的一樣糟糕。

都市策略協會長期以來一直支持地方政府、社區參與以及非營利社群進行資料導向決策。為此,我們一直維持自己的資料倉庫來進行非常行動導向的社會研究與空間分析。我們得協調取得政府資料(代價通常相當昂貴)、簽訂不公開協議、到處爬資料,然後有時很幸運的能在網路上找到。甚至,我們還有個正式目標要讓資料民主化。如同大多數在國家社區指標聯盟 (National Neighborhood Indicator Partnership, NNIP)的夥伴,我們在網路上建立地圖平台,讓政策的決策者、組織者以及社會大眾能藉此接觸到複雜資料簡化後的系統,以支持更廣泛的資料運用。就像其他組織,我們預設大家會時常來要製作各種特製的地圖,所以最好提供工具讓他們自己動手。人們也常會要求原始資料,有時候我們有權發布資料,而有時我們能用工作時間來發布或傳送這些資料給詢問者,但更多時候我們無法提供,就是因為上述兩個原因的其一或是兩者都出了問題。

與灣區自動製圖組織(Bay Area Automated Mapping Association (BAAMA))的一次常會改變了我對開放資料的看法。寫下我們使用的優秀開放空間資料庫PostGIS的那位加拿大發燒友Paul Ramsey,在演講最後用一張投影片大膽的宣示:你們使用資料的方式,並不一定是最有效的。

這句話給了我信念,讓其他人作點事、了解議題,可以輕易的找到資料並加以施力。每當我們無法讓資料公開時,我都會覺得自己阻擋了某些更大幅度改善發生。每當我們燒著研究經費,試著追蹤並去求、向他人借或爬資料時,我們恰好延續了自己對政府的抱怨。突然一切變得再明顯不過,我們決定重建製圖與資料視覺化平台時(http://viewer.infoalamedacounty.org),必須同時計畫讓資料開放。我們的新系統在2012年上線時,大概是第一個,也是唯一一個用ESRI建立的系統,能讓使用者可以輕易的下載我們的地理資料和地圖的原始資料。我們把介面和資料入口結合,讓使用者可以找到我們清理過的增值資料。我的想法是,如果我們用資助者或政府契約的錢來取得、清理資料並作地理編碼,那我們就應該盡可能讓資料有更多應用,而不是鎖起來。

很多像我們這樣的非營利或大學智庫,都面臨一樣的問題:我們收集了大量的公私領域資料,但卻沒有足夠經費和人力來讓它發揮最大價值。我對這個現實狀況感到越來越挫折;花了許多日子拿到資料,然後只用來做一個計畫,之後可能會再利用幾次,但這些資料的真正潛力卻從未展現。在開放資料時,我們發現自身認知上的轉變,還有能見度的明顯增加。我們仍舊盡可能的避免成為一手控制的守門員,而是試著作一個致能者,一個讓在地連結需求者與他們所需的人與資料的節點。這是個充滿回饋的角色,但更值得的是從分析師從投入大量時間找資料,轉變為能夠思考、作更多實質分析,並因得利於在我們領域開放資料而有更大影響力。

我相信,要把開放資料擴大到地方政府時,需要讓政府職員與領導者都有和我一樣的信念,也就是限制資料存取,並不能提供社群更好的服務。就算我們有強制讓某些紀錄經要求後可公開的政策,如果負責管理資料的人不喜歡你,或不喜歡你要作的事情,這項政策常常就沒達到效果。政府透過政策進行限制和強制,但在每個要求和新想法的最後,都有個政府職員和他自己的想法、掙扎和問題。

在我們推動在所有城市開放資料的落實時,必須記得這件事。我們追求的是以理念來觸及並影響群眾,而不是制度。就像Aaron Swartz (2012) 說過,得先修好機器,而不是人。我們必須要與群眾接觸,產生連結,才能修好我們殘破又封閉的政府。

位於灣區的中心地帶,有個都市正在許多苦難中掙扎,就如同美國其他古老大城市,尤其是位於鐵鏽地帶^1 的城市一樣:撤資、白人遷移^2、學校在生存邊緣、高犯罪率、大量喪失抵押贖回權、政治與政府腐敗以及許多醜聞。雖然有這些殘酷的現實,奧克蘭2012年時還是被紐約時報題為世界上最棒的五個地區之一,這讓我們既興奮又驚訝。奧克蘭人對我們的文化遺產、多樣性、偉大音樂家傳承、美味食物以及令人讚嘆的藝術,還有我們這美麗的灣區城市感到驕傲。

我們不像芝加哥、紐約或舊金山那麼大- 特大城市人口數龐大,也有相對應的龐大市政府職員。在開放政府運動中更不是主要領導者。我們在開放資料這條令人興奮的路上跌跌撞撞。這條路有許多途徑,有些能讓我們的城市通往真正的開放政府,而有些只有少許改進以及「開放清洗」(指透過發布一些資料來聲稱政府已經達到開放與透明的目的。)

而這旅程顯示,為何開放資料對大有問題的城市很重要,以及一些像公共檔案存取這樣技術性的東西,是如何支撐起我們城市的正向轉變- 對每一個人,而不只是我們這些技客。

The Start of Open: The Conviction Phase

The event that changed my thinking and changed my organization toward “open by default” was as unexpected as it was transformative. I’ve had the privilege to work at the Urban Strategies Council since immigrating to the USA in 2006. The Council is a social justice nonprofit that strives to support equity in urban communities and in policies that impact low-income communities, mostly communities of color.

A winding road led me to this exceptional organization. I started out as a land surveyor and planner in the private sector, dabbled in IT consulting in London, then landed in public health, working in spatial epidemiology. In the private sector, I got to interface with government in order to access and submit data ranging from suburban plans to large engineering project data and satellite imagery. Following that, I spent some years in the Western Australian Health Department, where I helped to establish a statewide spatial database to support our workforce and to enable public interfaces into government data. Here, I got to experience the empire building and data possessiveness I’ve railed against in the years since. In this job, I gained firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to create, manage, and be responsible for government data. There I experienced both the desire to control and restrict access to “my data” and the knowledge that this restricted data can do so much more when others have access to it. That job demonstrated a great conflict between securing and managing confidential data and supporting easy access to it.

As I was leaving this role, I was struck by the realization that even after years of dealing with data, people in our department still didn’t know our team existed and was available to serve them. In later years, I’ve realized that this is symptomatic of most government agencies: we do a terrible job of communicating. Our governments are not just struggling to be open and accessible to the public; they also fail to do this well internally.

At the Urban Strategies Council, we have a long history of supporting data-driven decisions in local government, community engagement, and the nonprofit community. In order to do this, we’ve maintained our own data warehouse to allow us to perform very action-oriented social research and spatial analysis. We negotiate access to government data (often paying dearly for the privilege), we sign non-disclosure agreements, we scrape the data, and sometimes, we’re lucky enough to easily find what we’re looking for online. We even have a formal goal to support the democratization of data. Like most of our partners in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), we’ve done this through building web mapping platforms that enable policy makers, organizers, and the general public to access complex data in simplified systems in order to support broad use of this data. Like most other organizations, our presumption was that because people always call us asking for custom maps, we needed to give them the tools to make them too. This is a fair response, if slightly disconnected from those others’ reality. Oftentimes, people will ask us for raw data. Sometimes, we have permission to distribute data, and sometimes, we can justify the staff time to publish or send the data to those asking, but often, we cannot deliver due to a combination of those two factors.

A rather ordinary meeting of the Bay Area Automated Mapping Association (BAAMA) triggered my change of heart about open data. A Canadian firebrand named Paul Ramsey, who built a great open source spatial database tool we use, called PostGIS, finished a presentation with a slide that boldly declared: “Your use of data is not necessarily the highest use of those data.”

This one simple statement gave me the conviction to enable others to do good, to understand issues, and to easily find data and leverage it. It struck me that every time we don’t make data openly available, we are limiting some other great improvement from happening. Every time we burn through project funds trying to track down and beg, borrow, or scrape data, we are in fact perpetuating the very thing that we regularly complain about from our government. It was suddenly clear that when we set out to rebuild our mapping and data visualization platform (see http://viewer.infoalamedacounty.org), we had to plan to open our data at the same time. When our new system launched in 2012, we were the first, and I think still the only, system built on an ESRI base that allows users to easily download both our geographical data and the raw data behind the maps. We paired this interface with a cobbled together data portal to help users find our cleaned, value-added raw data too. My reasoning was that if we’d used funders dollars or government contract dollars to acquire, clean, and geocode the data, then we should really be making more use of it than we could by keeping it locked away.

Many of our type of nonprofit or university think tanks face the same issue: we’ve collated incredible amounts of public and private data, yet we really don’t have the funds and staff to take full advantage of it all. I grew increasingly frustrated with this reality; we spent days getting data and doing a single project with it, perhaps reusing it a few times, but the true potential of the data was clearly not being realized. In opening our data, we have seen a change in perception of who we are and a marked increase in visibility. We still struggle to avoid being the gatekeeper—the one with control. Instead, we try to be an enabler, a node on the local network that connects those in need with the people or data they require. This is a rewarding role, but even more rewarding is the shift from being analysts that devote significant time to finding data to analysts who get to think, do more real analysis, and have more impact as we benefit from open data in our region.

I believe that to scale open data broadly across local government, we must rely on government staff and leaders to have a similar moment of conviction as the one I had. We’re not serving our community well by restricting access to data. Just as we have policies that mandate certain records be made public when requested, if the person who manages the data doesn’t like you or your use, then that policy is often ineffective. Government is limited and mandated through policy, but at the end of every request or every new idea, there is a government official with his or her own ideas, struggles, and problems.

In our push to realize open data across all our cities, we must never forget this fact. We are seeking to reach and impact people, not institutions, with our ideas. Yet, as Aaron Swartz (2012) said, we must fix the machine, not the people. We have to reach and connect with the people in order to fix our broken, closed governments.

###不合理的期望

奧克蘭市政府常被看作是取得資訊的一大障礙,除非對口負責的人認識且喜歡你,否則這些資訊照慣例是無法取得的。當我們自己的資料系統上線後,我才了解到奧克蘭需要的不只是一時興起的開放資料,而是大推進:一個開放資料政策。

我之前從來沒在地方府起草過任何一個通過的政策,所以著手進行這項任務時有些慌。好在有紐約與舊金山,他們優秀的政策和指示可以直接從Code for Americ網站上取得,我就直接把它們改成適合奧克蘭(和Alameda郡)的樣貌。之後,我又將大多數開放資料城市的優先資料作統整,並為城市如何通過並施行開放資料的指南寫草稿。我現在有了可重複使用的政策、其他地方展現開放資料實力的優良案例、一些清楚的施行步驟和方向、還有我認為是必殺武器的使用案例作為武器。我該怎麼辦呢?過去我從來沒有作過遊說,但我覺得那就是下一步。

我和許多奧克蘭市議員見面,討論這件我深信對我們城市至關重要的新事務,有時則是和幕僚長討論。在這些一對一的討論中,我試著把主要議題、益處和奧克蘭對此需求陳述出來,同時也討論了可能的政策執行(適度的)花費。這些對話得到兩種反應,首先,我很快便發現我的必殺武器不大管用,其次則是我們市議員有各種開放資料可以解決的問題。

在每一個案子裡討論開放資料,扣掉名詞造成的疑惑,大部分都變成討論城市在技術上的掙扎。這包括不易取得內部資料、開源技術的好處、以及城市該如何以更好的方式與公眾互動。市議員對缺乏輕易取得城市資產與計畫資料感到沮喪,這讓他們很難發展資料導向決策。從內部取得的助力不能說不顯著,所有鼓吹推動開放資料的人都可以很容易的找出一些當地案例,又正好是政府本身所需。畢竟,當與個人利益有關時,改變行為是最容易的。推動阿利美達郡考慮開放資料時的經驗也很類似。發展複雜內部資料分享架構非常昂貴、緩慢而且令人挫折,但對公眾開放資料在政治上很快就能見效。開放資料同時也為政府機關本身提供快速取得新資料的方式,這在之前是不可能的。

我的在地案例Crimesspotting便展現開放資料如何比政府能提供、負擔與想像的來得多,這是最早也最令人印象深刻的開放資料civic hacking案例之一,更是我所寄望的必殺武器。這個網站是一個好朋友Michal Migurski建的,每晚從FTP伺服器取得一個Excel檔案,再提供一個優雅可用的介面,幫助居民了解最近社區中的犯罪活動。這完全沒花市政府一分錢,所以我用這個故事來說明,如果開放整個城市的資料該有多棒。但我錯了,雖然我和一些市議員取得共鳴,但其他人很討厭這個網站,這讓我的工作變得更棘手。

不喜歡我的必殺武器的理由,則集中在這網站並沒有提供他們所需的一切資訊,還有提供一些令人不快的事件資訊讓城市看起來很糟。後者是個很難爭論的點,但前者卻是個機會。後來變得更明白的一點是,Crimespotting本身對資料的使用並不是不好,而是市議員們沒有辦法取得清晰的報告、統計彙整、趨勢資料、針對他們選區客製化的報告以及警方巡邏勤務。這反應了市政府缺乏資料分析師以及部分公部門能力有限,也讓將問題外包給供應商的趨勢凸顯出來。供應商可以創出一個系統來作犯罪報告與分析,但他們不是這些議題的專家,所以對他們來說,要以在地的脈絡進行徹底的分析並傳達資料意涵很不容易。

這代表著開放資料的機會。如果市政府不斷的開放他們的犯罪資料,其他人就能建立良好政策制定需要的介面、工具和報告。我們曾經提供基礎的Excel檔案給市政府作為短期協助,但這個需求為 OpenOakland 重新部屬 CrimeinChicago.org 給奧克蘭使用提供一個使用案例:既符合當地需要,又能提升開放資料展現其實力,和當地領導人取得共鳴。

就在我的類似遊說的首次經驗後,一個市議員Libby Schaaf成了讓事情成真的內部英雄。和其他城市不同的是,我們沒有強大的行政支援讓我們在一開始便立刻執行這項法律,而是一項批准的協議去研究開放平台,最後促成了一個批准的計畫以及與Socrata的平台供應合約。

Unreasonable Expectations

Oakland’s city government had long been seen as a blocker of access to information. Information is routinely not accessible unless you are known and liked by the person on the other end. As we launched our own data system, I realized that Oakland was not going to just open its data on a whim. It needed a big push: an open data policy.

I had never written an adopted policy in local government, so it was rather intimidating to begin such a task. Thanks to the work in New York and San Francisco, there were great policy and directive examples I could pull from the Code for America Commons site, which I reworked to suit Oakland (and also Alameda County). I then summarized the priority datasets from most other “open data” cities and drafted some guidelines for how a city could consider adopting and implementing an open data approach. I was now armed with reusable policies, good examples of how powerful opening data had been elsewhere, some clear steps and directions, and what I thought was a silver bullet use case. Where to now? I have never lobbied before, but if felt like that was the next step.

I met with many Oakland City Councilors and, sometimes, their Chief of Staff, to discuss this new thing that I was convinced mattered in our city. In these one-on-one discussions, I attempted to lay out the key issues, benefits, and the need for Oakland to do this. I also discussed the likely (modest) costs to implement this policy. Two reactions stood out in these conversations. First, I learned quickly, that my silver bullet was not viewed as very shiny, and second, I heard that our city councilors had a variety of problems that open data could help solve.

Discussing open data in every case led, if partly out of terminology confusion, to a discussion about technological struggles that the city faces. This included poor access to internal data, the benefits of open source technology, and the ways the city needed better ways to interact with the public. City councilors were frustrated with a lack of easy access to quality data on city assets and operations that made their job of developing informed, data-driven decisions much harder. These internal gains are not insignificant, and any advocates wanting to push for open data would do well to identify local examples that would meet the needs of government itself. After all, behavioral change is easiest when we can relate to a personal benefit. This was a similar experience when pushing Alameda County to consider open data. Developing a complex internal data-sharing infrastructure is incredibly expensive, slow, and frustrating, but opening data for the public is a quick win politically. It also provides fast access to new data for government agencies themselves, which is something that was not possible previously.

My local example of how open data can enable so much more than government can provide, afford, and imagine, was Crimespotting, one of the earliest and most impressive examples of civic hacking on almost open data. It was what I hoped would be our “silver bullet.” Built by a good friend, Michal Migurski, this site took a nightly Excel file from an FTP server and provided an elegant, usable interface that helped residents understand the recent crime activity in their community. At almost zero cost to the city, this was my story to demonstrate how awesome opening all the city’s data could be. I was wrong. While it resonated clearly with some city councilors, others actually hated the site, making my job much harder.

The reasons for not liking my “silver bullet” mostly centered on the fact that the site did not give them everything they wanted and that it provided information about unpleasant events that made our city look bad. The second concern is a tough argument to work with, but the first is an opportunity. It became clear that Crimespotting itself is not a bad use of data; it’s just that city councilors didn’t have good access to clear reporting, summary statistics, trend data, and custom reports for their own districts and police beats. This is a reflection on the lack of data analysts in the city and the limited capacity of certain city departments. It also highlights a trend of outsourcing “problems” to vendors. Vendors can create a system to do crime reporting and analysis, but they are not experts on the issues, so it’s hard for them to thoughtfully analyze and communicate the data in a local context.

This presents an opportunity for open data. If the city consistently opens their crime data, others can build the interfaces, tools, and reports that are needed for good policy-making. We’ve helped provide basic Excel files to the city for short-term help, but this need provided a clear use case for OpenOakland redeploying CrimeinChicago.org for use in Oakland: it meets a local need and leverages open data to show the potential in a way that resonates with local leaders.

After my first experiences doing something that resembled lobbying, one city councilor, Libby Schaaf, became the internal champion to make this happen. Unlike other cities, we did not get strong executive support to immediately implement this law. Instead, we had a resolution approved to “investigate open data platforms,” resulting in an approved plan and a contract with Socrata to provide such a platform.

###我們是開放政府嗎?

這讓奧克蘭落入一個尷尬的位置,我們有社群驅動的開放資料平台和一個市政府支援的平台,但又是唯一一個有網站入口卻又沒有法源根據的城市(我最近才知道紐奧良也是)。讓整件事情變得更奇怪的是,Alameda郡也做了一模一樣的事:他們有入口,卻沒有政策支援或維護。

在某個層次來說,這是浪費機會。政府職員與選舉出的領導者想想達成同樣的事情,是個罕見而美好的機會。兩邊都投入此事,並極為熱心的支援開放資料,但政府官員不認為需要立法,所以也沒有作任何推動。我們選出的公職人員則尚未隨著立法讓開放資料的使用與採納在城市與郡實現。

在開放資料運動中,有一個角度並不與透明有關。選出的公職人員對開放資料不大熱衷,並不是少見的現象:更透明最終將導致更清楚的責任歸屬。以地方來說,我並不信服透明度這個說法。然而,支援創新、讓城市更平易近人 和創造新機會的承諾,和讓內部更容易取得資料,是很有效的切入點。我現實面可以接受任何一個特定理由的良好決定,但我的理想面卻對很多官員的立場感到不安,以及反映出一些人稱作開放清洗的趨勢。

有時候引入開放資料平台會創造出開放政府由此存在的混淆狀況,但事實並非如此- 單單開放資料並不足以創造一個開放的政府。

下列訊息是由Alameda郡政府推特帳號在2013年4月2日發出,恰好說明這個邏輯缺陷是如何運作的:

開放資料 + #駭客松 = #開放政府 #ACApps 2013.1 挑戰於 4/27 在 #Berkeley 高中. http://code.acgov.org #gotcode?

這句話的意涵是我們把一些資料給你(太棒了),希望你能拿這些資料作點事情(耶,感謝你),然後我們就是開放政府了(並不是)。

這時角色澄清就很重要,試著推動開放資料並讓市民參與的職員,事實上正往隱含真正開放政府的現實邁進。然而在我們政府裡還是有些壞份子,因詐欺、不當管理與貪污受調查,或者將事情隱藏起來不讓大眾知道。信手拈來的不具爭議的開放資料是很重要,但那只是往開放、負責政府的拼圖中的一小塊而已。這是很好的起點,所需的投資非常少而且成了大好機會,但如果我們讓地方政府來畫藍圖,就表示「我們現在已經開放了,別再來煩我們」,代表我們讓他們失敗了,就如同他們無法真正了解開放資料的重要性一樣。

這其他城市和奧克蘭來說是個教訓。發布資料不是終點,雖然那確實很重要。奧克蘭走了一條容易的路,需要與日俱增的提倡來引入強力政策維護開放資料。藉由讓選出的公職人員在過程中充分參與,我們可能避免了有施行開放資料,卻沒有政策這種和大多數城市在開放資料上相異的狀況。我們的風險則是,一旦資深市府官員不希望一些資料公開,這就結束了。比如說市政府職員薪水資料,原本在網站上,後來就被拿掉了。「即將公布」四個字出現在市政府稍早的資料網站,但這是個錯誤陳述,其實資料已經被拿掉了。然而,同樣的資料卻還是能在州審計長的網站上找到。

Are We Opening Government?

This left Oakland in a strange position. We have both a community-driven open data platform and a city-supported platform, but we are one of the only cities to have a web portal and no legislation to support it (I recently learned that New Orleans is in the same position). To make this even stranger, Alameda County has done the exact same thing. They have the portal, but no policy to support or sustain it.

On one level, this is a wasted opportunity. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when both city/county staff and their elected leaders want the same thing. Both parties have a stake in this and have expressed serious support for open data, yet government staff doesn’t think legislation is needed and they are not pushing for it. Our elected officials have yet to follow through with legislation to ratify the use and adoption of open data in both the city and county.

There is an aspect to the open data movement that is not really about transparency. It’s not uncommon to find an elected official who isn’t enthused about the concept of open government: more transparency and, ultimately, more accountability. The transparency argument was not a convincing one for me locally. However, the promise of supporting innovation, making the city more accessible, and promoting new opportunities, along with better internal access to information, was an effective approach. While my pragmatic side is comfortable with a good decision for any particular reason, my idealistic side finds the positions of many officials unsettling and a reflection of the trend being identified by some as “openwashing.”

There is sometimes confusion that the adoption of an open data platform creates open government in and of itself. This is not the case—open data alone is not sufficient to create an open government.

The following message from an Alameda County government Twitter account (@ACData) on April 2, 2013, is an example of this flawed logic in action:

#OpenData + #Hackathon = #OpenGov #ACApps Challenge 2013.1 on 4/27 at #Berkeley High School. http://code.acgov.org  #gotcode?

The line of reasoning is that we gave you some of our data (awesome), we want you to do stuff with it (nice, thank you), and hence, we now have Open Government (not quite).

Some role clarification is important here. The staff who are trying to open data and engage citizens are in fact moving toward a reality that embodies true open government. However, there are still bad apples within our local governments who are investigated for fraud, mismanagement, or corruption, or for hiding things from the public. Open data that includes a lot of noncontroversial data is low-hanging fruit and is important, but this is only one small piece of the puzzle that leads to open, accountable government. It’s a great starting point that takes minimal investment and leads to good publicity, but if we allow our local governments to paint the picture of this work meaning “we’re now open so leave us alone,” then we have failed them as much as they have failed to truly understand why open data matters.

There is a lesson here for many other cities and for Oakland. Publishing data is not the end game. It is a big deal though. Oakland is taking an easy road and requires increased advocacy to adopt a strong policy to sustain open data. By keeping elected officials more engaged through this process, we might have avoided this situation where we have a practice, but no policy—the opposite of almost every other city working with open data. The risk for us is that as soon as a senior city official doesn’t like something being open, it goes away. Take the city staff salary data, which was originally published but then removed. The words “Coming soon” were then published on the city’s earlier data page. This is a patently false statement because the reality is that the data was removed. The same data was still, however, available on the state controller’s website.

###資料城市的靈丹妙藥

想像一個新政策、新社會服務或者任何一個公司或政府的投資決策,沒有策略性的使用資料來提供思考與計畫內容是很困難的。但是通常城市裡並沒有職員有能力或權責來徹底分析公共與機密資料。而在私部門的我們,時常會對他們提供給市議員作為決策輔助的資料感到驚訝。既然世界上九成的資料都是近兩年製作出來的,我們便沒有理由不去找可靠的資料來提供計畫與政策制定參考。我們想像中的未來,是所有議題上的各種資料都可以輕易取得並作分析,只可惜我們還沒到那裡。

奧克蘭和Alameda郡的開放資料引起了許多對於資料品質與可靠性的問題,還有正當性。這對官僚的恐懼是合理的,但也是因為對政府內部沒有正當的位置。如果我們的原始資料就很糟,決策就會受錯誤引導。因此,從某些角度來說,開放資料是當地政府對資料品質作控制的開端。陽光照亮許多缺陷,就如同開放資料讓市政府資料收集、管理與使用的缺陷浮上台面。這些了解可能讓某些人一度覺得很糟,但現在各部門內的職員和他們的社群結盟,這些人一樣對資料管理缺少關注表示關切。

傳統上,這只有透過一個非常小、緊密連結的專家團體和政府合作來達成。一般來說,這些團體不會對政府強施壓力,怕會因此失去他們的特權以及收入來源。藉由開放資料,我們現在可以得利於廣大關心並了解資料的市民,從他們身上學習並改進我們的步驟與施行方式。公共資料的內部使用者和更廣大的群眾都能同時受益。

政府資料的問題變得可見以後,通常會造成很糟的結果,但這應該被看作是當我們從不成熟的政府資料使用到以資料導向決策為標準的成長陣痛。

The Panacea of Data-Driven Cities

It’s hard to imagine a new policy, new social service, or new investment decision being made in any company or government without the strategic use of data to inform the thinking and planning. Still, too frequently, cities do not have staff with the skills or the mandate to thoughtfully analyze public and confidential data. Those of us in the private sector would be often horrified to see the type of information provided to city councilors to aid their decision-making. Since ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years, we have no excuse for not looking at reliable data to inform our planning and policy-making. This is the future we dreamed of, where data on almost any issue is readily available and easily analyzed. Only, we aren’t there yet.

Opening data in Oakland and Alameda County has raised a lot of questions about the quality and reliability of this data and with due cause. This is a valid fear of bureaucrats, yet it is a fear that has no rightful place in our governments. If our raw data is bad, our decisions can only be misinformed. Opening data, therefore, is in some respects the beginning of a data quality control effort within our local governments. Sunshine reveals many flaws, and open data reveals many flaws in our data collection, management, and use in city government. These realizations may make some people feel bad for a time, but the staffer who has been lamenting the lack of time and funding to properly manage the data in their department now has allies across their community who are also concerned about this lack of attention toward data management.

This has traditionally only been possible with very small, tight-knit groups of “experts” who work with government. These have generally been groups who would not push back hard on government for fear of losing favor and income streams. By opening our data, we can now take advantage of the larger pool of citizens who care about and know about that data; and we can learn from them and improve our processes and practices, which will both benefit the internal users of our public data and the wider public.

The problems that become visible around government data can often have ugly consequences, but they must be seen as growing pains as we move from immature uses of data in government to a place where data-driven decision-making is the norm.

###撐起政府的長尾巴

很多批評奧克蘭的人表示開放資料解釋不了什麼事情,沒有辦法把事情講清楚,也沒有提供答案。有些人也表示重視開放資料與政府的社群太關注於技術解決方案。前者的看法沒錯,雖然帶有否定意味,但是後者並沒有完全理解這個運動以及其內涵。讓我們了解一下政府的現行方式,再思考開放資料對未來有什麼意義。

在開放政府一書(2010)中,David Eaves提供一個切實的故事,精妙的說明市民對封閉政府決策的態度在資訊時代如何轉變:

過去公民相信客觀的專家和選舉出的代表來為他們作決定,因為其專業與效率,整個不透明的系統被容忍下來。現在則不再如此,網路加速了遵從度的衰退,因為那同時也加速客觀的死亡。並不是我們不信任,而只是我們想自己查證

他又舉了維基百科和大英百科全書為例,其中權威性藉由透明化整個產生過程而生的,受到更多信任。Eaves斷言,「透明度..就是新的客觀性,除非能看到引導到客觀結果的整個討論過程,我們不會輕易相信。」

在奧克蘭,開放資料可能讓城市免於在全新打擊犯罪策略圍繞下尷尬的失敗,也可能促使一個更豐富的意思形成過程,以更完整的面向切入議題,而不是在一個封閉會議中的糟糕模型決定。在2012年,市政府宣布一項新打擊犯罪策略叫一百街區計畫。很快的,在社區、我的組織以及其他許多組織都對這個計畫缺乏細節表示關切。我們都在問,那佔了九成犯罪的一百個街區在哪裡。我們和負責檢閱我們初步分析的市政府職員碰面,我們發現事實和市政府在他們計畫裡的差異很大。他們自信滿滿的告訴我們資料是一樣的,但並非如此。市政府選擇不發布以地區為基礎的策略的正確資料,也拒絕發布做出關鍵決策所使用的資料,而這會影響我們城市的安全與福祉。

這個時候,犯罪報告差不多都是開放的。Michal Migurski為Crimespotting收集了多年資料,都市策略協會也清理並發布更多這些資料。官方回應與我們預想的良好政府不同(模式看起來是錯的,而且計畫過程保密),尤其是城市中有多個像我們這樣的組織具有分析與預防犯罪經驗,我們認為在讓市民與專業人士以小搏大,對公共決策與計畫做出貢獻上,市府這麼做是很失敗的。

2012年6月,我們發布自行研究的奧克蘭犯罪熱點,而結果顯示市區中的一百個街區大概只涵蓋了(加上緩衝)17%左右的犯罪,和政府公布的九成不符。我們感到很失望,其他城市都公布原始資料給大眾,還附上品質分析來幫助大家了解整個流程,但奧克蘭所作的完全相反。所以,我們試著以身作則,把研究結果、用來計算的原始資料還有詳細的方法說明全部公開,這樣其他人就可以審閱我們的發現,如果其中有嚴重的錯誤也可以提出指正(都市策略協會,2012)(但我們一個錯也沒有。)這個公開,很明顯的引起我們不想牽扯的媒體聲浪,但我們認為對犯罪與城市犯罪減低政策作公開揭露是很有價值的。在捍衛官方計畫與數字的正確性後,市政府轉過頭來承認,那資料和以其為根據的計畫都是錯的。

這些不幸的事件不是要給公職人員難堪,而是要提升公共決策的參與程度。我們想強調開放資料對讓都市裡的市民了解都市決策背後意涵的重要性,讓他們可以自行驗證任何一種說法。地方政府先作決定,再要求大家相信政府的好意,以及專家意見,已經不再能讓人接受了。

奧克蘭市長Quan和媒體說,這事她做錯了,應該仔細檢閱資料來源。但以這個建議來說,我相信他真的不懂。審閱每一份分析或量測結果完全不是一個市長的職責所在。每個選舉出的公職人員,應該要依靠市政府職員和專家來維持分析的品質。開放資料所開放的是一個未來,讓市民專家對政府決策、分析和聲明作適當建言。這是能支持在主動決策中市民所扮演角色的民主。

就如之前所說,發布原始資料本身並不會創造知情者與專家的群體,也不等於讓解答垂手可得,而是讓對我們社區關心的議題作更深入的參與。Aaron Swartz在開放政府 (2010) 提到, 增進透明度的努力本身,並不是以現在的形式運作。開放資料的潛力,是讓更多響應與徹底監督政策與政府行動成為可能,理想的情況下,在未來政府公職人員會了解到他們是在一個不再隱形、無法以拒絕提供公開資料作為保護的空間中工作。這反而會創造出一個現實,讓數以千計的選民們可以取得並質疑能解釋這些公職人員的動機與行動的資料。

Leveraging the Long Tail of Government

Many critics in Oakland have suggested that open data doesn’t explain anything, doesn’t make anything clear, and doesn’t provide answers. Some also suggest that the community focus on open data and open government is overly focused on technological solutionism. The first group is right, albeit barely, while the second group has not fully comprehended this movement and its intent. Let’s take a look at a current practice in government and then consider what open data means for the future.

In Open Government (2010), David Eaves provides a cogent story that elegantly describes how citizen’s attitudes towards closed government decision-making have changed in the information age:

There was a time when citizens trusted objective professionals and elected officials to make those decisions on our behalf and where the opacity of the system was tolerated because of the professionalism and efficiencies it produced. This is no longer the case; the Internet accelerates the decline of deference because it accelerates the death of objectivity. It’s not that we don’t trust; it’s just that we want to verify. (Eaves, 2010.)

He goes on to compare Wikipedia and Britannica, where the authority that is transparent in its process is, in fact, more trusted. Eaves posits that “transparency... is the new objectivity. We are not going to trust objectivity unless we can see the discussion that led to it.”

In Oakland, open data would have saved the city from an embarrassing failure surrounding a new crime fighting strategy. It could also have spurred a much richer deliberative process to build a comprehensive approach for an issue, instead of a bad model created in closed access meetings. In 2012, the city announced a crime fighting strategy called the 100 Blocks Plan. Immediately, the community, my organization, and dozens of other organizations raised concerns over a serious lack of detail about this plan. We all questioned just exactly where these hundred blocks that contained ninety percent of the crime were. We met with city staff who looked over our initial analysis, which showed a very different reality than what the city had laid out in its plan. They confidently told us that their data was the same, which clearly was not the case. The city chose not to publish accurate information about a place-based strategy and refused to publish the data used to make this critical decision that affects the safety and well-being of our city.

At this point in time, crime reports were almost open data. Michal Migurski had collected years of data for Crimespotting, and the Urban Strategies Council had also cleaned and published even more of this data. When the official response did not ring true with our perception of good government (the model looked quite wrong and the planning process was secretive) in a city with dozens of organizations with analytical and crime prevention experience, we saw this as a failure to leverage the citizens and professionals who can contribute to public decision-making and planning.

In June 2012, we released our own study of Oakland crime hotspots. Our research indicated that at most, one hundred city blocks (and a buffer) could contain only seventeen percent of violent crimes—not the ninety percent figure publicized by the city. We were frustrated that at a time when other cities were publishing raw data to inform the public, along with quality analysis to help us understand their process, Oakland was doing the opposite. So, we attempted to lead by example. We published our study, including the raw data we used for our calculations, and a detailed methodology, so others could review our findings and correct us if we made serious mistakes (Urban Strategies Council, 2012). (We didn’t.) This revelation obviously caused a media frenzy that we had no desire to be involved in, but we did think it was valuable to have an informed discourse in our city about crime and city policies to reduce crime. After defending the official plan and numbers as correct, the city turned around and admitted that the data the plan was based on was, in fact, wrong.

The results of these unfortunate events were in no way intended to make any public officials look bad, but to elevate the level of engagement in public decision-making. We wanted to highlight the need for open data to allow the citizens of our city to understand the thinking behind city decisions—to test any statements of fact themselves. It is no longer an acceptable circumstance for local government to make decisions and ask that we simply trust its goodwill and expert opinion.

Oakland’s Mayor Quan told the media that she was at fault and should have vetted the data more. In this suggestion, I believe she was wrong. It is far from the role of a city mayor to conduct an independent review of every single analysis or metric given to them. Any elected official must be able to rely on the quality of analysis from city staff and other experts. What open datasets open up is a future where citizen experts can easily provide qualified perspectives on government decisions, analysis, and statements. This is a democracy that can support the role of citizens in active decision-making.

As I suggested earlier, publishing the raw data itself does not create an informed and expert community; it does not equate to answers being readily available. What it does do is enable far deeper engagement on issues that our communities care about. As Aaron Swartz submitted in Open Government (2010), transparency efforts themselves tend to not work in their current forms. The potential of open data is to enable far more responsive and thorough oversight of political and governmental actions, which ideally, could lead to a future where officials are operating in a space they know is no longer invisible and no longer protected by a layer of public records refusals. Instead, it would create a reality in which hundreds or thousands of their constituents can access and question data that explain their motives and actions.

###最近資料為我做了什麼?

就當建立創新與讓人耳目一新的公眾app與新工具的風潮進入停滯期時,我相信我們正目睹一項緩慢而穩定的轉變,來尋找開放資料這個新寶庫到底有什麼用處。我所謂的有用,是解決問題、發現未知的問題以及協助說明老問題的新解法。我喜歡嶄新的apps讓我本來就很舒適的生活更好、連結更緊密、對訊息有更好掌握,但這些只是新科技和資料造成的如虎添翼而已。我知道資料可以做的更多,而我們正看著這股趨勢在國內外不斷成長。

一些組織像是Datakind, GAFFTA和無國界技客(Geeks Without Borders),還有一些當地研究/行動庫像都市策略協會,已經在各自的案例上努力了數十年。傳統上是這麼做的:定義問題、找出可以解答問題與提供解法的資料、取得資料、分析後再將結果與解法傳達出去。開放資料把痛苦從這個舊作法中拿掉,也把取得資料得侷限性去掉了,並提供無限的解決問題方式。我相信在未來會因需求而產生尖端的資料商店,就如同我們所作的一樣有辦法取得原始記錄格式的敏感資料來作研究,但開放資料聽起來是這種途徑或資料倉儲的喪鐘。非營利和學術機構同樣應該了解到,我們和囤積資料的人一樣有罪,跟著公部門走,將手上的資料盡可能的釋放出來,可以能達成更多事情。

在許多都市研究和空間分析計畫中,取得資料可能佔了高達總估計的兩成。在開始開放部分奧克蘭和各郡資料的短短幾個月間,我們已經在兩項主要計畫中省下數十小時的時間,尤其當這些研究者是以約聘身分為政府工作時,這省下的時間累積起來可以減少大量開支。

和已經開放的資料上工作和一般模式不同,我們得請當地政府為我們花時間挖掘出他們自己的資料來作分析付費。當我們自己蒐集資料時,我們必須讓它預設公開,否則就又為保留應公布的寶貴資料這個問題再加一筆。這些非營利和學術組織,通常都和政府一樣層層保護又封閉,又因並非納稅者支持的單位,而無須面對公開資料要求,更增加開放的障礙。好在最近已經有一些頗具希望的案例,顯示基金會開始開放他們的資料給全世界(DonorsChoose.org就是個很好的例子)

在城市策略協會,我們已經是對全部保有與接收到的資料施行「預設開放」的全國案例,但這條路也因為大多數非政府組織,嚴重缺乏資料和基本運作、管理與發布資料的技術能力而走的很慢。當這種情況發生時(一定會發生),我們會看到在社會工作領域的後果有兩種,特別是在透明度在一般並不透明的組織裡得到提升(Carl Malamud發布990多個公共資料的成果雖然令人欽佩,但不幸的,並沒有建立量測計畫品質或效率的標準),還有在讓豐富的資料解密提供使用這個常見的益處。非營利組織、基金會和學校在美國從事大量社區普查,正因為這些資料不公開且受保護,很多組織並不知道自己重複了其他人的工作。這造成很多社區被過度調查,同時也浪費了許多精力,如果原始結果和最後的報告一開始就空開,就不需要這樣重複工作了。

在現在的情況下,資助者會收到受贈人的影響力報告,說明他們以多少服務幫助了多少人,很少提到位置或是其他長期成果或影響。要求或鼓勵大小非營利組織開始開放具細節(但不是保密)的資料,能讓資助者評估計畫的真實影響,也會讓那些眼觀大局的人準確認出實際服務執行上的落差,並評估巨觀層面的成果,以協助引導未來贊助優先順序。如果你相信這就是慈善組織的常用作法,那你就大錯特錯了。起先只是想讓政府把公共投資相關資料因各式各樣的理由公開,最後無可避免的在社區營造和社會福利領域產生一樣的趨勢。我們需要透明度,而不只是善心和花俏的口號,而我們也會繼續推動以證據為本實踐而不是「作我們一直在做的事,因為這管用。」

What Has Data Done for Me Lately?

As the furious rush to build “innovative” and “game changing“ civic apps and new tools starts to plateau, I believe we are seeing a slow but steady shift into finding ways that this new treasure trove of open data can actually do something useful. By useful, I mean solve problems, uncover unknown problems, and help illuminate new solutions to old problems. I love geeky apps that make my already comfortable life even better, more connected, and more informed, but this is indeed just a way that new technology and data are empowering the empowered. I’ve seen data do so much more, and we are starting to see this use trend growing nationally and globally.

Groups such as DataKind, GAFFTA, and Geeks Without Borders, and local research/action tanks, like the Urban Strategies Council, have been doing this well—in our case, for decades. Traditionally, it looks like this: define your problem, identify data to inform the problem/solution, obtain data, analyze it, and communicate results and solutions. Open data takes the pain out of this old equation. It also takes the exclusivity out of the obtain data element and provides for unlimited problem solvers. I believe there will be a future need for sophisticated data shops like ours that can gain access to raw, record-level sensitive data for research purposes, but open data sounds the death knell for the gateway or custodian model of data warehousing. The nonprofit and academic sector has to also realize that we have been as guilty of data hoarding as anyone and that we can enable more by following the lead of the public sector and opening our data wherever we can.

On many urban research and spatial analysis projects, data acquisition can run as high as twenty percent of a budget. In just a few short months of working in Oakland with partially open data from the city and the county, we’ve already saved dozens of hours of time on two major projects. These saved costs to a community add up, especially in the case where researchers are working for the government on contract.

Working with already open data is a shift away from the typical model, where we have to charge local government for the time it takes us to source and uncover its own data to use for analysis. In the cases when we have to do our own data gathering, we should be making it open by default—otherwise, we ourselves are contributing to the problem of withholding valuable data that could be public. These nonprofit and academic institutions are often as protective and closed by nature as government has been, with the added obstacle of the lack of a public mandate due to being a taxpayer-funded entity. There have, however, been promising instances where foundations have begun opening their data to the world (DonorsChoose.org is one good example).

At Urban Strategies Council, we have been a national example in the adoption of an “open by default” policy for all the data we’ve held and all that we receive, but this also is a slow road since most nonprofit organizations severely lack data and the technological capacity for general operation, management, and publication of their data. When this does happen (and it must), we will see two major outcomes that are important in the social sector in particular: much more transparency in a sector that typically has little (Carl Malamud’s inspiring work to publish 990s does not yield measures on quality or efficiency of programs, unfortunately) and the familiar benefit of rich data resources being unlocked and available. Nonprofits, foundations, and universities do the bulk of community surveys in the USA, and many unknowingly duplicate each other’s work because the results are closed and protected. This results in the over-surveying of many communities and in wasteful efforts that would not be needed should raw survey results be published by default, along with the final reports.

In the present scenario, funders receive impact reports from grantees stating they served x people for y service, rarely providing any “where” or any long-term outcomes or impacts, merely demonstrating transactional gains through service delivery. Mandating or encouraging small to large nonprofits to begin opening detailed (but not confidential) data will allow funders to begin evaluating real impact. It will allow those who look at the macro picture to accurately identify gaps in actual service delivery and enable them to evaluate macro level outcomes to help guide future funding priorities. If you currently believe that this is common practice in the philanthropic sector, you couldn’t be more wrong. What started as an effort to get government to open up publicly funded data for a myriad of reasons will inevitably result in this same trend in the community development and social sector. We will require transparency over simple goodwill and flowery slogans, and we will push for evidence-based practice over “doing what we’ve always done because it works.”

###進入危險區域

我們這些作資料這一行的有一個毛病,就是我們必須很小心的面對充滿競爭的開放資料標準。很多組織過去需要使用不公開協議和合作備忘錄,但現在因為可以從網路上得到所需資料,這些文書就變得毫無意義。然而這還是產生一個模糊的中間地帶。一些過去會提供詳細的敏感資料給我們作研究用途的機關,不僅自行公開部分資料,同時也藉由公共檔案法(Public Records Act, PRA)或資訊自由法(FOIA)發展出更好的要求資料形式。這些使得開放資料和機密資料間的界線變得模糊,需要更小心的處理資料傳送許可。

當地的警察分局最近提供我們一個豐富的凶殺案調查資料,這我們已經用了很多年了,但這次需要PRA。我們假設所有藉由PRA提供的資料都是公開的,所以也可以重新發布,後來發現這不全對。

分局只給過我們一次資料,因為我們是受信賴的社區研究夥伴。但他們事實上並不想讓這個敏感資料公諸於世。在開放資料和新PRA流程間的混淆中,他們確實以發布資料來作為對PRA的回應,所以技術上來說,這是以公共檔案形式發布的。這反映出我們需要更小心、刻意的為保有敏感資訊的部門審閱資料取得流程。開放資料提供一個良好機會,來完成為本身保有的資料建檔、合法性以及後設資料。這些關注對於避免過程中的混淆,以及假想之許可性是很重要的。在這種狀況下,也許必須引用一些學區使用的研究取得許可,來保證PRA和敏感資料不會被錯誤釋出。

Into the Danger Zone

One caveat that those of us in the data trade will have to work carefully around is competing standards of open data. Many organizations once required the use of non-disclosure agreements and memorandums of understanding, but these no longer have any meaning when we can now find the data we need online. There is, however, a tricky middle ground appearing. Agencies that once would furnish us with detailed, sensitive data for the purposes of research are both publishing some data openly, while at the same time developing better processes for data requests using the Public Records Act (PRA) or FOIA. This results in some blurring of the lines between open data and confidential data and will require very carefully communicated permissions.

Our local police department recently provided us with a rich homicide investigation dataset, which is something that we have accessed over the years. This time, however, it required a PRA. Our assumption that all records provided via PRA are public and, thus, we can republish this data, turned out to be partly wrong.

The department had only given us the data once more because of our trusted relationship as a community research partner. They did not, in fact, consider this sensitive data to be public. In the confusion over open data and new PRA procedures, however, they did issue the data in response to a PRA, hence, technically releasing the data as public record. This reflects the need to carefully and intentionally review data access procedures in every department housing sensitive information. Opening data provides an excellent opportunity to completely document your data holdings, legal availability, and metadata for each. This kind of attention is necessary to avoid confusion in the process and assumed permissions. In this case, it may be necessary to adopt a research access agreement similar to that used by school districts to ensure PRA and sensitive data are not released incorrectly.

###社區營造

社區營造是美國各城市中極少受開放資料影響的重要部分。這領域包括當地政府部門(規模通常很小)還有非營利組織,通常是社區發展會(Community Development Corporations,CDCs)。這兩種組織運作都受缺乏資料所影響,包括利益群體的顆粒資料^3、公有地產資料、市場趨勢、發展、法拍屋以及其他部門的資料。現在大部分的資料都鎖在政府倉庫裡,或是溢價出售給公共或其他政府單位。花費上的障礙,不清楚可否運用,以及大多數地產資料在品質、流通程度與相關度上的混淆,代表有太多的社區發展在運作上是資料盲(data-blind)。我們訪問許多這個領域的當地組織,發現這些障礙的各種面向,都影響了他們組織的效率和影響力。

這個領域應該採用資料導向,因為這能夠吸引顯著規模的國內投資。投資地點、時間和方法的決策,在私部門裡很少沒有以堅實的資料為後盾的,而這在社區發展會也經常是如此。開放關鍵地產與經濟發展資料,會讓社區發展有更高層次的複雜與精確度。就如同資助者和政府對證據與資料導向的工作越來越重視,投資來源兩者也必須接受他們需扮演支持或提供相對應資源的角色。

Community Development

There is one important sector of American cities that has barely been affected by open data: community development. This field consists of local government departments (often small ones) and local nonprofits, often Community Development Corporations (CDCs). Both of these types of organizations are hampered by a lack of access to granular data relating to their communities of interest, commonly property data, market trends, development, foreclosures, and data from other sectors. Presently, much of this data is locked in government silos or sold at a premium to the public and other government agencies, despite being public data at its core. The barriers of cost, unclear availability, and confusion over the quality, currency, and the relevance of most property data mean that too many CDC type operations are running data-blind. We’ve interviewed many local organizations in this field and found that almost every one faces these barriers in a way that affects their effectiveness and impact.

This sector must be data-driven, as the volume of investment it draws nationally is substantial. Decisions of where, when, and how to invest would rarely be made without solid data in the private sector, yet this is all too common in the CDC world. Opening key property and economic development data will add a level of sophistication and rigor to the CDC world that is important. However, it will not automatically create skills or cheap tools to analyze and utilize this data. As funders and government become more focused on evidence-based and data-driven efforts, both sources of investment must accept their role in supporting or providing that kind of capacity.

###誰擁有你的資料?

開放房地產資料會帶來對公有制的爭論。現在Alameda郡裡,任何非營利或是市/郡級機關如果希望能衡量他們的資產法拍後的影響、或是評估法拍案產生的影響或機會,都需要向私有來源購買資料。這意味著每個單位都得單獨進行這項工作。開放一部分的資料應該能讓我們思考,其他尚未公開資料背後的現實情況。在這個例子裡,資料來源是郡級機關:書記處。這個機關的委任架構很簡單,也有一段時間沒有改組。當一個法拍案提出時,會是一張紙本表格。日期、銀行或法拍代理人以及房主的資料有電子紀錄,但其他重要細節像是數量、地址、城市等等都是在一張掃描圖檔上。這些圖檔只有產權公司可以取得,他們生成數位紀錄的服務曾經很有價值。但在2013年,這樣的政府運作方式已經無法令人接受了。

這不是書記處的問題,在我們和該單位的往來經驗裡,他們似乎都能幫上忙;相對的,這問題出在我們如何思考資產與資源,以及政府內部缺乏靈活度,無法面對不斷增加的機會。在人們的期望攀升以及政府鼓勵在此創造更多價值的情況中,這些企業資料封地不應在廣泛開放公共資料下繼續存活。製作可用的資料則是最簡單的一條路。你可以想像自己無法回答像是「奧克蘭市今年有多少法拍案」這樣一個簡單的問題嗎?因為機關自己並不製作資料,他們無法直接提供解答。

Who Owns Your Data?

Opening property data will bring a fight over public ownership that opening property data. Presently, in Alameda County, any nonprofit or any city/county agency that wishes to consider the impact of foreclosures on their work or to evaluate the impact or opportunities that foreclosures have created, must purchase this data from private sources. This means every agency, independently. The opening of some data should prompt us to ask about the realities behind other data not being opened. In this case, the source of this data is a county agency: the Clerk Recorder. The Clerk Recorder has a simple mandate that has not changed significantly for some time. When a foreclosure is filed, it comes in paper form. The date, bank or foreclosing agent, and the homeowner are electronically recorded, while other critical details, like amount, address, city, etc., are left on a scanned image. These images are made available to title companies, who provide the once-valuable service of creating digital records, which are then sold back to any government or public agency who needs them. In 2013, this cannot be accepted as good government.

This is not a flaw with the Clerk Recorder, who seems to be a genuinely helpful person based on our interactions. It’s a flaw in how we think about assets and resources and a lack of agility in government to adapt as opportunities arise. These corporate data fiefdoms should not survive the broader opening of public data, as people’s expectations rise and as government is encouraged to create value where it can. Creating usable data is one of the easiest ways to do so. Can you imagine not being able to answer a simple question like “How many foreclosures did you accept in the city of Oakland this year?” Because the agency itself creates no data, it cannot answer this question directly.

###你們開始做生意了嗎?

在社區營造帶來的好處背後,還能從日益增加的經濟發展獲得實質回饋。這在實務上很簡單,但我們在奧克蘭的狀況有如盲人瞎馬,深陷危機而不自知。奧克蘭非常想要各方投資和零售活動,卻無法讓過程走的順利,或幫助那些考慮在本市投資的做出明智決定。對大型企業來說,取得當地資料或許算不上是投資的障礙,因為他們可以從專業市場分析、經紀人等取得類似服務,但對小型至中型企業來說,這些服務大多都是無法企及的。

對奧克蘭來說,開放自身資料並鼓勵以此發展各種工具應該是很容易的。在2013年1月,一個潛在的新事業主或是投資者無法在線上找到奧克蘭市的資料或工具,來評估商業許可、建築與發展許可、閒置物產、妨礙或地區的犯罪比較。相較之下,在鄰近的舊金山市這些都能輕易取得。這些資料可以取得,是因為新事業很需要這些資訊,幫助發展過程走的平順些。就像這幾年地方政府財務吃緊時,我們得變得更聰明。開放這所有的資有些投機取巧,也很關鍵。如果我們城市因為經費或過時的科技採購方式,而無法製造工具來吸引商業的話,開放資料藉由其邊際成本應該就足以應付。其他人能用更便宜更快的方式製造工具。古老的格言說因為太貴所以不能這麼做,已經很難拿來當論點了,這些改變會引導我們城市找出內部弱點,並促使更廣大的社群共同努力發展因這些資料而能夠實現的工具和分析。這將會不可思議的展現出政府組織長尾裡的潛力,以及開放政府在共同合作下能作更多事。

Are You Open for Business?

On the back of the benefits that community development can reap are the even more substantial rewards gained through increased economic development. This is simple in practice, but we’ve apparently been sleeping at the wheel in cities like Oakland. Our city desperately wants investment and retail, but we’ve failed to make the path smooth and to help those considering our city make informed decisions. For large corporations, access to local data is, perhaps, less of a barrier to investment because of their access to professional market analysts, brokers, and the like, but for a small to medium enterprise, these services are mostly out of reach.

It should be a no brainer for Oakland to both open its data and encourage the development of tools on top of this data. As of January 2013, in our city, a potential new business owner or investor could not find data or tools online to allow the owner to review business permits, building and development permits, vacant properties, blight, or regional crime comparisons. Compare this with our neighbor city of San Francisco where all these things are simply available. They’re available because they are needed and help make the path smoother for new business. When times are tight in local government, like during the past several years, we must get smarter. Releasing all this data is opportunistic and critical. If our city is unable to build the tools to help attract business because of funding or outdated IT procurement approaches, then the data will suffice at a marginal cost. Others can build tools more cheaply and faster. The old adage that says we can’t do this because it’s expensive is hard to use as a straw man anymore. This change will take leadership from our city to identify an area of internal weakness and engage with the broader community in an effort to develop the tools and analyses that this data makes possible. This would be an incredible demonstration of recognizing the potential in the long tail of government and in how open government can collectively do so much more together.

###結語

每個城市走向開放資料與開放政府的路程都有所不同。奧克蘭的起頭雖然緩慢,因有資料平台和不斷增加的參與而令人興奮不已。不過,現在斷言政府推動立法保護並維持市府職員的努力還太早。我們學習到的一課是與選舉出的政治人物間的界接必須維持在很高的水平,來保證政策和實際執行上能互相吻合,而發展強烈起始動機是能避免削弱計畫、以及前進方向緩慢又不確定的關鍵。

開放資料逐漸被認為是能滿足提倡透明政府的單一解法。這取決於那些足夠了解需求的人來說出這個誤解的真相,究竟哪些是開放資料,哪些又不是。這仰賴和選舉出的公職人員有強烈連結,並在行動上更靠近社區營造的努力,而不是科技新創公司。更多開放資料提供強大的推進力,展現出開放政府可以更有效率、更靈活,但這工作將落在我們這些局外人手裡,並鼓勵政府擁抱開放資料。

App開發領域雖然是新開放資料的積極使用者之一,但社區發展、社工以及地政部分上增進效率、決策和計畫將一樣會有很深刻的進展。軟體工程師只關注現在,但不久後,當這運動觸及到分析師、規劃者和研究者這些依資料為生的人時,開放的時代終將到來。很快的,這些人將會感受到以「當然可以,這些資料已經在網站上公開而且可以免費使用」回應複雜研究資料請求時的喜悅。所有人都能成為致能者,是創造價值與分享利益平台的一部分。

我在美國和其他各地的許多城市工作過,這十幾年來,問題都是一樣的:我們總是無法取得所需的政府資料,或者太昂貴。已經有很多城市表示這不該是常態了,自從我們改為「預設開放」後,我們讓更多價值得以創造出來:開放商業活動、開放參與和開放創新。

Conclusion

Every city takes a different path to open its data and progress toward open government. Oakland is off to a slow but exciting start with its data platform and with increased engagement through this data. Yet, it remains to be seen if our city will push through legislation to protect and sustain the worthy efforts of city staff at this point. Our lesson here is that engagement with elected officials must be sustained at a high level to ensure policy matches practice and also that developing strong initial resolutions is the key to avoid watered down plans and slow, uncertain paths forward.

Opening data is increasingly being seen as a single solution that will satisfy the transparency advocates. It is up to those of us who understand how much more is needed to speak truth to this misrepresentation of what open data is and is not. This relies on stronger ties with elected officials and behaviors more akin to community organizing efforts than those of tech startups. More open data provides us all with powerful fuel to demonstrate ways that open government can truly be more effective and more agile, but it will be largely left to those of us on the outside to demonstrate this and to encourage government to embrace open data more broadly.

While the app-developing world is an attractive audience to make use of new open data, there will be incredible gains in efficiency, decision-making, and planning in the community development, social service, and land management sectors that are just as impactful. Software developers are the focus for now, but in time, as this movement reaches the analysts, planners, and researchers who also live on data, this movement will come of age. Soon, more of the latter will experience the joy of responding to a complicated research data request with the phrase “Sure you can have the data. It’s open and online for free already!” We can all become enablers, part of a rich platform that creates value and shares for the benefit of all.

I’ve worked across dozens of cities in the USA and elsewhere, and for decades, the problem was always this: we can’t get the government data we need or it’s expensive. Enough cities have now demonstrated that this should not be the norm anymore. We enable far more value to be created once we become open-by-default cities: open for business, open for engagement, and open for innovation.

###作者後記

寫完這篇文章後,奧克蘭這裡有些正面進展。在協會成員Libby Schaaf的要求下,我們開始進行奧克蘭市開放資料政策新立法的群眾外包。我們從德州奧斯汀市、奧瑞岡州波特蘭市、北卡羅萊納羅里市以及芝加哥的政策中,把最強且最相關的元素結合起來,並發表一份草稿供空開評論,而至目前為止收到許多來自其他城市實行者的正面回饋,以及他們的自身經驗,還有一些當地有興趣參與的民眾一起把這件事辦好。這是個實驗,也應該很有趣。接下來,我們會舉行圓桌論壇來回顧並思考這些對我們城市有何意義,然後試著讓法案通過!繼續前進!

Author’s Note

After writing, some positive progress has been made in Oakland. At the request of council member Libby Schaaf, we are beginning crowdsourcing of new legislation for an official open data policy in the city of Oakland. We’ve combined what we see as the strongest and most relevant elements of policies from Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Chicago. We’ve published the draft for public comment, and so far we have great feedback from other practitioners in cities with experience of their own process and locals interested in making this right for us. It’s an experiment. It should be fun. Next we hold a roundtable session to review and consider what this means for our city. And then we try to get this passed! Onward.

—Steve Spiker

###關於作者

Steve Spiker(通稱Spike)是都市策略協會的研究與技術總監,該協會位於奧克蘭,從事改造社會創新合作的非營利組織已逾二十六年。他領導該協會的研究、空間分析、評估與技術工作,同時也是OpenOakland的執行總監與共同創辦人,這是一個位於東灣區支持開放資料與開放政府的公民創新組織。

About the Author

Steve Spiker (Spike) is the Director of Research & Technology at the Urban Strategies Council, a social change nonprofit supporting innovation and collaboration based in Oakland for almost twenty-six years. He leads the Council’s research, spatial analysis, evaluation, and tech work. He is also the Executive Director and co-founder of OpenOakland, a civic innovation organization supporting open data and open government in the East Bay.

引用文獻

References

Eaves, D. (2010). Open Government. Available from https://github.com/oreillymedia/open_government New York Times (2012). The 45 Places to Go in 2012. The New York Times, January 6, 2012. Retrieved from http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/travel/45-places-to-go-in-2012.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Swartz, A. (2012, September 25). Fix the machine, not the person. Retrieved from http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/nummi Urban Strategies Council. (2012, June 5). Our Take on Oakland’s 100 Blocks Plan. Retrieved from http://www.infoalamedacounty.org/index.php/research/crimesafety/violenceprevention/oakland100blocks.html Urban Strategies Council. (2012, May 22). Our Method: Oakland’s 100 Blocks Plan. Retrieved from http://www.infoalamedacounty.org/index.php/research/crimesafety/violenceprevention/oakland100blocksmethod.html

###譯註

  1. 鐵鏽地帶(Rust belt)指美國東北部五大湖區沿岸,過去以鋼鐵等重要工業聞名的區域,隨著全球化生產中心轉移在1970年代開始逐沒落。包括芝加哥、水牛城、底特律、克里夫蘭等城市。
  2. 白人遷移(white flight)指歐裔高加索種人從多種族混居的市中心,逐漸移居種族組成單一的郊區或是從北方移居至氣候較溫和的南方地區(如佛羅里達)。