Rachel Haot: My 2013 Prediction, Open Data Will Save Lives

With the New Year upon us, we ask New York City’s Chief Digital Officer what she thinks will dominate in 2013.

In 2013, access to government data will enable unprecedented service, efficiency and innovation.

New York City is already witnessing evidence of the groundbreaking potential of strategic data analysis, and in 2013 this will accelerate and spread across the globe. Today, technologists in the Bloomberg Administration mine municipal data to save lives and make New York City safer. For example, the City can now predict when a building poses a higher security risk to firefighters, allowing planning that has reduced firefighter casualties by 15%. And by analyzing and repositioning the locations of waiting emergency response vehicles, the City has reduced its average ambulance response time by one minute.

Even more staggering is the potential for government innovation to happen outside of government – hand-in-hand with the public. This year New York City government released more than 1,300 municipal data sets, encouraging independent technologists and researchers to develop applications and extract insights from these assets.  Examples of data include WiFi hotspots, police response times, and hurricane evacuation zones – enabling Google and The New York Times to build lifesaving, interactive maps during Hurricane Sandy. We estimate that those maps helped us collectively reach ten times as many people than we would have alone. It’s powerful proof of open data’s value.

Beyond smarter tools, open data can lead to economic development, as entrepreneurs see opportunities to add value and create jobs with a mission. New York City’s NYC BigApps Competition has been a pioneer in encouraging developers to build apps and even businesses based on municipal data; today success stories include MyCityWay and Roadify.

In 2013, governments will realize that by committing to an open data strategy, they can save money, save time, and most importantly, save lives.

City of New York

Read more 2013 Predictions here.

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