Smartwave is excited to announce the approaching launch of the Milwaukee Open Data Initiative. This project seeks to facilitate data collection and collaboration between charitable foundations, community service providers, technology companies and government agencies in the City of Milwaukee. Establishing and applying a common, single set of data standards across community systems allows these organizations to effectively collaborate and report on their combined data. Through this type of standardization, organizations can better pinpoint the areas of social instability. When able to identify the root of specific social problems, organizations can better conceptualize and collaborate on what is required to ignite specific changes to improve the whole of a particular social ecosystem.
The Big Idea
On a recent trip to Europe, I visited five countries in just ten days. Although many people I came across in most countries had a general understanding of English, it was hard to navigate important conversational details. When asking for directions, I found that even a small mistake could have a big impact on my ability to function properly in that country. The simple fact of the matter is that without a common tongue, it’s difficult to exchange information accurately or rapidly.
Kick-Starting Community Change
We’re looking at a two-fold problem: one, social problems are complex; and two, we must recognize that social progress is stagnant or declining, despite our best individual efforts. Plus, we’re currently trending toward the expectation of increased accountability in terms of our ability to measure outcomes and prove results in an ever-changing socio-economic and political ecosystem.
Currently, data collaboration is simply ineffective: it’s time-consuming, it’s costly and it’s difficult due to non-standardized data. So, we’re out to address this social need and the needs of entire communities by establishing data standards for ease of collaboration – and without requiring any organization to make compromises.
With the Milwaukee Open Data Initiative, we intend to:
- Improve the interoperability and integration capability of systems
- Reduce barriers to entering or migrating from one system to another
- Increase fair competition for software development
- Create more opportunities for developers and entrepreneurs to address social issues
- Allow community service providers to be more efficient with reporting and data management
- Allow for better community-wide strategic decision making regarding initiatives
Data Collaboration = Social Progress
Setting these data requirements (but not mandating the use of any particular system) will allow flexibility, encourage new innovations, support cost-effective collaborations and help us gauge the health of our communities using standardized measurements. We all want to be confident our community leaders will be informed, basing important community decisions on effective and accurate data. Whether outcome-driven, impact-driven, opportunity-driven or policy-driven, the Milwaukee Open Data Initiative will facilitate the long-term objectives of a variety of community organizations. The result? Improved communities and increasing social stability and progress across Milwaukee – and that’s something everyone can get behind.