By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia City Hall churns out reams of data each day and now Mayor Michael Nutter has hired someone to find better ways of getting those bits and bytes into the hands of people who can actually use it.
Mayor Nutter has created the position of Chief Data Officer, and filling that post is 43-year old Mark Headd. He says all cities are vast repositories of data that often go unused, and his goal is to make it accessible to anyone and everyone.
“There’s a movement starting all over the country, and Philadelphia’s actually in the vanguard of this movement, to format this data for re-use, specifically to let people easily re-use it, and to put it in a place that’s very easy to find, that’s very easy to build a community around, that’s very easy to build a business around.”
The challenges facing Headd include devising new web portals so the data is searchable and understandable and playing matchmaker among the many city departments that create the data.
The potential, he says, is vast. “To build an application, to build a business, to tell a story, to answer a question: it’s really about figuring out the best way to deliver this information to potential consumers of it.”
Headd was formerly with the office of Delaware Governor Tom Carper and most recently has been with “Code for America,” a non-profit whose stated goal is to “help governments work better for everyone with the people and the power of the web.”