More and more governments are publishing data feeds, whether of news, alerts regarding public services, or even exposing administrative data. In the UK, the “Mash the State” project has the goal of encouraging every local unit of government publish a news RSS feed.
Inspired by the project, Steve Clift asked “what web feeds should government websites provide?” on the Democracies Online listserv.
1. What’s New – Comprehensive feed of all new pages/documents across
the site/agency posted/updated online.
2. Upcoming Public Meetings – Meetings coming up with links to
available meeting documents
3. Press Releases
I added a few more, from the perspective of urban planning more specifically:
- 311 service requests
- Geocoded feed with project proposals at various stages of the development review process (site plan review, zoning variance, etc)
- Feeds specific to the process of creating certain plans or policy documents (feed for comprehensive plan, or downtown revitalization plan, etc)
- Geocoded feeds of recently issued permits, by type (building or construction permits, parade or public space use permits, liquor licenses, etc)
- Real-time data on urban systems such as traffic or transit alerts.
Dan Knauss thought the question itself was off-base: “What is needed is a querying syntax like Apache’s Lucene with output options in a number of different XML schemas. Then you can pull whatever you want from a database in any format that’s provided.” He points to this project in Milwaukee that works off a dataset fed by government email lists, because they don’t offer RSS.
What data feeds do you think the government should publish?