King County turns to apps to shape the future of open data



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Posted on June 29, 2010 at 7:53 AM


 SEATTLE - These days it seems like there's an app for everything. Now, King County is considering using new apps to give residents access to public information via the Web or mobile applications.

For Jen Joyce of Seattle, getting ready for work revolves around her smart phone.

"It's pretty sad to say it (smart phone) has my life on it," Joyce told KING 5.

Every day, Jen saves ten minutes with one mobile app in particular -- One Bus Away.

"I can take either the 10 or 11 bus," said Joyce. 'one Bus Away' lets Jen know in real-time when a Metro bus is arriving or late.

It's one of many apps that's driven by King County's data.

The county tracks millions of data points from bus locations to property taxes at its new, state-of-the art data center.

The center is buzzing filled with computer servers and electronics.

"Literally that sound you're hearing, you're hearing data processing for every public health activity that takes place in the county, like processing for court cases. You're hearing the management of the property for 1.7 million homes, all that happens in this room," said Trever Esko, Open Data Project Manager for King County.

Esko is working to make King County's public information safely and readily available - online and at your fingers tips. At a recent workshop in June, the county asked residents and software developers what apps they wanted and what would be valuable to them.

"We have limited resources in King County. We're not going to be able to develop ground-breaking applications, but if we make public information available to innovators, they're able to take information forward and do something innovative and deliver real groundbreaking applications for citizens," said Esko.

Some ideas the county is looking at for future apps are possible apps for crime stats, jail bookings, property values and assessments to restaurant health scores.

"Potentially what they'd be able to see is restaurant reviews, and mapping info they'd be able to see perhaps crime statistics in the neighborhood as they're walking through to get to the restaurant," said Esko.

The county plans to hold another public workshop in August to get input from residents and software developers.