Open@VT

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Tag Archives: Open Government

Open Data Day/CodeAcross Event Recap

Blacksburg’s first celebration of Open Data Day and CodeAcross was organized by Code for NRV, our local Code for America brigade, and the University Libraries, which hosted the event in Newman Library’s Multipurpose Room. Originally scheduled for Saturday, February 21 (the official Open Data Day observed in hundreds of cities around the world), due to rapidly accumulating snow we had to postpone until Sunday. As it turned out, a water leak closed the library around mid-day Saturday, so things worked out for the best. (Our apologies to registrants for the sudden change in plans.)

Open Data Day logo

The first event of the morning was a mapping roundtable led by Peter Sforza, director of the Center for Geospatial Information Technology at Virginia Tech. In addition to looking at a lot of cool maps, we identified three potential areas for collaboration:

  • 3D Blacksburg – an effort to develop a common, shared 3D spatial reference model for Blacksburg and the New River Valley.
  • Contributing more authoritative data to OpenStreetMap for Blacksburg and Virginia by working with GeoGig.
  • Opening data that CGIT compiles for projects and research, for example crash data from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Mapping Roundtable

Peter Sforza Leads the Mapping Roundtable

For the journalism roundtable, we were joined by Scott Chandler, Design/Production Adviser for the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech, and Cameron Austin, former editor of the Collegiate Times. One problem the CT has is finding/keeping programmers to help with data, such as their academic salaries database. Code for NRV will try to help with recruitment. A database of textbook costs was identified as a possibility to work on that would be of particular interest to students.

Blacksburg town council member Michael Sutphin joined us for the public policy roundtable, which included interesting discussions of town planning notifications and ways to encourage citizen engagement (such as the underutilized site Speak Up Blacksburg). Some of the project ideas included:

  • Visualizations of the town’s historical budget data that could benefit the public and town officials.
  • Opening the raw data used to create tables and maps in the town’s comprehensive plans.
  • Analysis of emails to and from local government officials to create visualizations of the most commented on topics in the town, e.g. word clouds and tag lists.

Our hackathon emerged from the morning’s mapping roundtable, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the projects were geographic in nature:

  • One volunteer used the Virginia Restaurant Health Inspection API created by Code for Hampton Roads to create a map of Blacksburg restaurants and their health scores.
  • An architecture student started a project that will use open 3D geospatial data from Virginia Tech to design pathways that are sculpted for the landscape.
  • Researchers from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute adapted a model used in Ebola research to optimize placement of EMS staging areas during flood emergencies in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The model uses open data sets like the location and elevation of every roadway in Virginia to determine which streets would still be navigable during a flood.
Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith

To kick off our events Friday evening, we were very happy to have Waldo Jaquith speaking on “Open Government Data in Virginia” prefaced by a brief introduction to Open Data Day/CodeAcross by Ben Schoenfeld, co-leader of the Code for NRV brigade. Waldo Jaquith is the director of the U.S. Open Data Institute, an organization building the capacity of open data and supporting government in that mission. See the video of his talk below.

Thanks to everyone who turned out Friday and/or Sunday!

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

Learn About Open Data at Open Data Day/CodeAcross!

Join us for Blacksburg’s first observance of Open Data Day/CodeAcross, organized by Virginia Tech’s University Libraries and Code for NRV, our local Code for America brigade, this Friday and Saturday, February 20-21, 2015. We will be one of more than 100 Open Data Day and CodeAcross events taking place around the world on February 21. We welcome area residents and local government officials as well as faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech to find out how open data can improve our community (coding not required!). Registration is requested to help us with logistics, and for VT faculty, NLI credit is available (look for the sign-in sheet as well).

Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith

Friday, February 20, 2015
5:30pm to 7:00pm
Newman Library Multipurpose Room (first floor)

To kick off our events, we are very pleased to have Waldo Jaquith speaking on “Open Government Data in Virginia” which will be followed by a brief introduction to Open Data Day/CodeAcross. Waldo Jaquith is the director of the U.S. Open Data Institute, an organization building the capacity of open data and supporting government in that mission. In 2011, in acknowledgement of his open data work, Jaquith was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House and, in 2012, an “OpenGov Champion” by the Sunlight Foundation. He went on to work in open data with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Jaquith, a 2005 Virginia Tech graduate, lives near Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife and son.

Open Data Day logo

Saturday February 21, 2015
9:30am to 5:00pm (lunch provided)
Newman Library Multipurpose Room (first floor)
Registration requested!

Open Data Day/CodeAcross will offer three tracks for coders and non-coders alike. First, there will be a sequence of one-hour discussion roundtables led by experts on the relationship of open data with mapping (10am), journalism (11am), public policy (1pm), health (2pm), and research (3pm). Second, there will be a mapping project emerging from the mapping roundtable and lasting the rest of the day. Third, for the coders there will be a hackathon using open government data in Virginia. Around 4pm, we will gather together, talk about our projects and what we learned, and plan for the continuation of projects. Attendees may move between these three strands as they like- or just come for one roundtable. Lunch is provided! While all events are free and open to the public, please register online to help us plan for the roundtables, lunch, and wireless access for those without a Virginia Tech affiliation. If you have questions, please contact me, Philip Young at pyoung1@vt.edu or 540-231–8845. Hope to see you there! #OpenDataDay #CodeAcross

CodeAcross logo

Worth Reading: Decision Trees, Copyright and ETDs, Open Virginia, and iCalendar

I haven’t been following open access developments in the UK, but apparently publishers are weakening the proposed policy there. I haven’t seen their decision tree, but Mike Taylor proposes one that should work globally. While authors are more likely to follow the publisher’s guidelines on archiving (if that), Taylor does have a point about manuscript ownership. Most authors won’t be so assertive, though I don’t know of any cases of publishers asking for the material to be taken down.

Graduate students apparently don’t know much about copyright for their ETDs, and part of the cause may be bad information from their universities, according to the latest post on Free US ETDs. An upcoming Part 2 will offer guidance on providing better copyright information for ETDs.

Virginia Tech alumnus Waldo Jaquith posts on the launch of the Open Virginia data repository, bringing various datasets together in one place. The data repository uses CKAN, an open data solution from the Open Knowledge Foundation that, you guessed it, is also open source.

Many of you will remember Microsoft’s Jon Udell from his visit to Virginia Tech a couple of years ago as Distinguished Innovator in Residence. He’s now working with communities in the Hampton Roads area on a community calendar, which will use iCalendar, an open standard. It’ll be interesting to see the results.

Worth Reading

Several interesting items have appeared in the last few days:

This reflection on publishing in PLoS ONE is fascinating (read the comments too). PLoS ONE has lots of appeal (open access, fast turnaround time, good impact factor), but younger researchers can’t get past the perceptions of older colleagues.

The mass resignation of the editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration due to the publishing terms of Taylor & Francis is covered by Brian Mathews, Jason Griffey, and Chris Bourg. I think this is a positive move, but fear that JLA will simply replace the board and go on publishing as usual. Some have encouraged the editorial board to form its own OA journal, just as these boards that resigned did.

Of particular interest to Virginians, Waldo Jaquith used Kickstarter to fund a successful bounty for video speech transcription. The code will be put to use on Richmond Sunlight, a project of Open Virginia.

And here at Virginia Tech, the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship is offering a journal publishing service– here’s how the editorial process works.