On Saturday morning, May 16th, 2009, the City hosted a meeting soliciting input from the community as they re-ignite the CoA website redesign project. It became clear that the technical staff who will be responsible for implementation of the CoA website are enthusiastic fans of making as many data feeds available as possible. However, they are also privy to the realities of the heterogenous and often legacy computing infrastructures loosely federated across City departments. It became clear that while we can request machine-consumable data feeds or simply downloadable exports on the website, the fundamental data sources will generally require custom development to generate those feeds.
I propose that as part of the City website redesign project, a subproject be initiated to develop the data feeds that will be necessary to supply the website itself and 3rd parties with source data. It was suggested in the meeting that we target a list of "low-hanging fruit" or data sources that could be easily made web-consumable (such as APD police reports which are already available via web interface [ https://www.ci.austin.tx.us/police/reports/index.cfm ] ); perhaps we could offer suggestions of other data sources to target in the comments here?
I'd also like to re-iterate the observation made in the meeting that this is not a request for the build out of fully functional APIs for each data source; simply generating CSV exports will necessitate the evaluation of what data the City already HAS available, and help begin the process of developing roadmaps to feed this data into the website and out to 3rd parties.
(This idea documents discussions that emerged from the above stated meeting, and rarely are the ideas mine.)