Miami’s Tech Leaders Ask Mayor Gimenez for a Stronger Open Data Policy

May 19, 2015

2:00 pm

This week, 59 members of Miami’s tech community signed a letter calling on Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez to introduce a robust open data policy for the county. The letter was sent on behalf of the signers by Code for Miami, a brigade of volunteers dedicated to improving civic technology throughout Miami­-Dade County.

Miami lags behind when it comes to creating an open data policy. In the last few years, cities like San Francisco and Chicago have implemented strategic plans for releasing public data in a timely manner, improving the usability of city data and identifying innovative uses for data sets.

“It is the first time that so many of Miami’s tech and civic leaders have come together to make a political statement,” explained Ric Herrero of MIAMade “Miami-Dade should not be left behind.”

This move would help Miami-Dade focus more time and attention on its civic hackers, the developers, analysts, and business people who can use the public data to create solutions to ongoing problems in the city. Below is the letter to Mayor Gimenez:

Dear Mayor Gimenez,

For years your administration has recognized that Miami’s tech community needs support if it is to thrive in the world­wide economy. Last February, you stood on stage before members of the tech community to launch Miami-Dade’s Open Data Portal. By doing so, you helped position the County as a worldwide leader in data­driven governance. Now, the undersigned members of Miami’s tech community ask that you continue your commitment to responsive governance and innovation by adopting an Open Data Policy that governs the maintenance of the County’s Open Data Portal and ensures the reliability of its data.

Since its launch, the County’s Open Data Portal has been an unequivocal success. It has fostered transparency and accountability within the County and has helped local developers to create innovative solutions to a variety of civic challenges. Making county data routinely and freely available to the public means it is also available internally across County agencies, empowering Miami-­Dade County employees to more effectively monitor and improve services. Local volunteers have created tools using the County’s Open Data Portal to help Miamians predict flooding patterns, track public transportation services, and streamline the County’s permitting process. New applications are being built every day with public data and with each line of code our community grows stronger.

Indeed, the county’s Open Data Portal is a promising start. But with your help, and the implementation of a robust Open Data Policy, Miami can solidify itself as a worldwide destination for technology. An Open Data Policy would formalize the rules governing the County’s Open Data Portal and would provide needed guidelines on data accessibility and data security. A reliable Open Data Policy would foster innovation by preserving data integrity and ensuring that the County’s Open Data Portal is up­to­date and accurate. It would also provide assurances about the quality of the County’s data to entrepreneurs wishing to start local tech businesses and developers seeking to utilize public data to create high­tech applications that improve civic life.

A great example of how an Open Data Policy can trigger entrepreneurism and civic improvement occurred recently in Los Angeles when the municipality entered into an open data partnership with mobile app Waze to help its residents avoid the city’s notorious rush hour traffic. We appreciate the county’s existing civic technology outreach efforts. The Community Information and Outreach (CIAO) department has led efforts to leverage county data and analytics to improve services and has assisted citizens engaging with county government technology and data. This department has worked hand ­in ­hand with the civic tech community to develop more accessible, user-­friendly solutions to civic challenges through technology. CIAO’s commitment to collaboration demonstrates that they should play a key role in the implementation of an Open Data Policy. We therefore recommend that your office empower CIAO to work directly with county agencies to open their data sets in ways that are responsive to community needs, and to measure CIAO’s success by its ability to demonstrate to agencies how they can procure and deliver services more effectively through the smart leveraging of open data.

We all share a commitment to building a strong civic ecosystem and ensuring that government technology benefits all residents. As members of this community, we will continue developing projects and hosting hackathons, trainings, and meetups to promote government transparency, technological innovation, and civic problem­solving. We’ll collaborate, compete, and share expertise to help Miami­-Dade address our most pressing civic challenges. And we’ll train a new generation of Miamians to be civically engaged and to put their considerable skills to work for our community. We invite you, our commissioners and our county staff to join us again this year at Miami’s third annual National Day of Civic Hacking on June 6 at the LAB Miami to work on next steps together and to see this commitment in action. Throughout your term as mayor, you have been an advocate for Miami-­Dade County’s burgeoning tech scene. You have worked for economic opportunity, for transparency, for efficiency, and for accountability. We support these goals and believe that a robust Open Data Policy and your continued commitment to vital technology collaboration between community and government will accelerate our county’s progress toward them.

Thank you,

Rebekah Monson Co­founder, Code for Miami

Ernie Hsiung Co­Founder, Code for Miami

Cristina Solana, Co­captain, Code for Miami

Tamara Wendt, The LAB Miami

Brian Breslin, Refresh Miami

Stonly Baptiste, Urban.Us

Felecia Hatcher, Code Fever

Wifredo Fernandez, CREATE Miami at Miami Dade College

Mariana Rego, LaunchCode

Johanna Mikkola Co­founder Wyncode Academy

Matt Mawhinney, LaunchCode

Natalia Martinez, Awesome Foundation

Justin Wales, Emerge Miami

Christopher Sopher, CEO, Whereby.Us

Matthew Toro Co­founder, Maptime Miami

Bruce Pinchbeck, Co­founder, Whereby.Us

Kubs Lalchandani New Leaders Council Miami, Lalchandani Simon PL Alice Horn Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Bobby Hannat New Leaders Council Miami

Binsen J Gonzalez, Our City Thoughts, Inc.

Andre Rodriguez Influence Communications

Kyler Berry, Organizer, Front­End Developers of Miami

Armando Ibarra, Miami Young Republicans

Lili Bach, Miami­Dade Young Dems

Jose L Pimienta, Front­End Developers of Miami

Brett Hudson, Defense Connect Group

Ashley Arostegui, WMN Miami/Younger Women’s Task Force

Ana Colls, WMN Miami/Younger Women’s Task Force

Nabyl Charania Co­founder & CEO, Rokk3r Labs

Juan Cuba, New Leaders Council Miami

Carlos E Caceres Developer, Tow Truck Alert

Adrian Esquivel, CEO, TECKpert Greg Bloom, Open Referral Initiative

Vitaliy Gnezdilov, designMiami

Jonathon Ende CEO, SeamlessDocs

Chachi Camejo CTO, SeamlessDocs

David Peraza Co­Founder, Aecosoft Corp. Project Lead, OpenPermit Initiative

Maykel Martin Co­Founder, Aecosoft Corp. Project Lead, OpenPermit Initiative

Tyler Gordon Co­Founder, COO, Agent Inbox

Alaa Mukahhal Innovative Operations, Wyncode Academy

Jose C Fernandez Developer, JoseWorks, Teaching Assistant, Wyncode Academy

Walter Latimer Wyncode Academy, Codecademy Labs

Marta Viciedo Founding Partner, Urban Impact Lab Chair, TrAC

Ric Herrero Founder, MIAMade

Dan Grech Co­Founder, Hacks/Hackers Miami Vice Chair, Dean’s Advisory Board at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at FIU

Ed Toro Head Instructor, Wyncode Academy Co­Organizer, Miami Ruby Brigade

Susan Jacobson Assistant Professor, Florida International University School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Mikhaile Solomon Opa­locka Community Development Corporation PRIZM New Leaders Council Miami

Mario Cruz CTO & Founder, Choose Digital

Nelson Milian Co­Founder Wynwood Maker Camp, Mindjoule

Will Weinraub CEO & Co­Founder, LiveNinja

Rebecca White Vice President, AIGA Miami

Shaun Abrahamson Urban.Us

Nizar Khalife Lead Instructor, Ironhack

Vassoula Vasiliou President AIGA Miami

Juha Mikkola Co­founder Wyncode Academy

David James Knight Internet, IP and Technology Attorney

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.

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