Public Records

Technology & City Data
3:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Steel City Codefest Shows the Potential for Open Data

Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/weinakademieberlin/5417420791/

Pittsburgh's second Steel City Codefest is almost here. The second annual 24-hour technology competition aims to create relevant and useful apps for the Pittsburgh area.

One of last year's winning teams created an app called ParkIt, which would allow users to pay for parking meters using their phone. The app would also remind users when their meter is about to expire and allow them to refill it.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:05 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Right to Know Law Could Be Less Important with #OpenPgh

Steel City Codefest is challenging developers to create apps for street cleaning, trash pickup, even ways to top-up parking while away from the meter, using open data.
Credit jacob caddy / flickr

Pittsburgh plans to join 19 other American cities and counties in releasing city data for public use online. As the city works out the details of how this initiative will take shape, they’re looking for public input.

Debra Lam, Mayor Peduto's pick for Chief of Innovation & Performance and Laura Meixell, data and analytics manager for the City of Pittsburgh, say the initial ordinance brought to city council last month is meant to change the perceptions of how Pittsburghers think about data and city disclosure of information.

“It sets the default to open.” Laura Meixell explains, “There’s a whole variety of state laws around what information is public and what isn’t, in the PA Right to Know law. And here in the city we’ve been following those rules since that legislation was enacted, but much more on the basis of, if folks asked for information we would provide it. With this [open data] legislation we’re going to  have the chance to go ahead and be proactive, to open things up and to make things more available and useful in the short term.”

City organizations have encouraged the software community to creatively use municipal data, even before the introduction of this legislation, through Steel City Codefest.

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Public Records
3:30 am
Sun April 21, 2013

The Right to Know, or the Right to No?

Credit Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

After getting a parking ticket at Pittsburgh International Airport, a driver requested a copy of the Allegheny Police Department’s report of the incident. The department didn’t respond.

A parent asked the Ligonier Valley School District for documents detailing planned teacher layoffs. The school district said it had no such documents.

A reporter asked Middle Smithfield Township for maps of local sewer lines. The township refused to turn them over, saying that could jeopardize the security of the sewage system.

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