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Municipal data needs a good hack

17/06/2013
Paul Berkowitz at JoziHub talking about crunching municipal data.

Paul Berkowitz at JoziHub talking about crunching municipal data.

In this piece written for eNCA.com which you can read here – private companies and individuals are getting their hands on municipal data in an effort to improve basic service delivery and free up consumer data.

I think it’s a good effort. With the tools available to us today the opportunities for creating some awesome apps and tucking into some presentation and visualisation of this mountain of data is exciting. Make journalism beautiful. Making real beautiful. Something we should all be striving for.

The group on 15 June sought to tackle one of the most pressing issues of our times – service delivery in a rapidly expanding metropolis with a multitude of social problems and an inadequate record keeping process. Enter Johannesburg and its numbers.

Service delivery – water, electricity, sanitation, rubbish removal – is the point here. Paul Berkowitz from Citydex and one of the organisers of the event says, “We want to drive delivery, we want greater public engagement. We do this through data sharing”. Of course, one of the sticking points to taking this step in service delivery is whether this data is actually available and accessible to the public. Berkowitz is a bit of an activist for holding municipalities accountable for their data. All this information should be available and ideally having as Berkowitz lovingly says, “One database to bind them.”

By the close of the day there was no finished product on the table but organisers said they are setting down some clear goals and timelines moving forward.

Anyway – watch this space for some cool journo developments. SA is a little behind, let’s all admit that, but the economies of having these kind of people on staff is starting to make sense.

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