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GCN : March 2014
CASE STUDY OPEN ARCHITECTURE Open data, open access and open source. That s the scope of the Open Raleigh initiative, cur- rently under way in the city of Ra- leigh, N.C. The concerted effort aims to improve citizens ability to tap government data, sharpen city officials decision-making, promote open-source technology and increase high-speed Internet access. The city council s 2012 open government resolution provided the impetus for Open Raleigh, which is slated to expand this year. Gail Roper, Raleigh s chief information officer, said the plan is consistent with the city s overall push for greater transparency. The effort got another lift re- cently through its collaboration with Code for America, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that places developers with local gov- ernments through its fellowship program. The city currently pursues three primary programs under the Open Raleigh banner: an Open Data Portal, an effort to expand Internet access and a re- gional broadband network initia- tive. The Open Data Portal lets citi- zen search and browse data sets and visualizations covering such areas as budget, building permits and fire incidents. Perhaps more important, city employees can ac- cess and analyze the data as well. "The staff can begin to solve their own problems, in terms of ques- tions and issues around certain areas," Roper said. Another Open Raleigh pro- gram seeks to expand Internet access in underserved areas. Ra- leigh offers its Digital Connectors training program, which provides technology training to youth in areas including digital literacy, hardware, networks and pro- gramming. The city and its partners, mean- while, are reviewing proposals on a third program, the North Caro- lina Next Generation Network, or NCNGN, a regional project to develop high-speed broadband services. Additionally, Raleigh has also made open-source technology a priority under the Open Ra- leigh plan. That direction was envisioned in the city council s initial resolution, which directed the city s IT department to set an open systems procurement policy. "It is becoming part of our cul- ture," she said. Open Raleigh s data access phi- losophy also has an economic di- mension. Roper said she believes the ability to improve data and information access, "could help us make prudent business deci- sions." Open access has a broader eco- nomic development role for Ra- leigh. The city offers Wi-Fi access in its downtown core and has up- graded the telecom infrastructure in the city s convention center. Open Internet access, Roper said, "becomes part of the core and fabric of the city of Raleigh. When you come, you know you are going to be able to do what- ever you are here to do." • The city sharpens its decision making and fuels economic development with open systems and high-speed Internet The Raleigh pledge: open source and access BY JOHN MOORE 28 GCN MARCH 2014 • GCN.COM "Open access becomes part of the core and fabric of the city. When you come you know you're going to be able to do whatever you're here to do." -- GAIL ROPER, RALEIGH CIO