The power of imagination makes us infinite. - John Muir
Portland, Oregon, is adopting a resolution designed to officially make Portland a more open city, reports journalist Rick Turoczy.
It will formalize the city’s commitment to open source — both with their data and with their computer systems.
If the resolution passes, this Wednesday at the City Council meeting, it opens City data to the outside world and will require that the city give open source choices consideration during purchasing decisions.
UPDATE: Skip Newberry with the Mayor’s Office announced that the city council unanimously approved the Open Data/Open Source resolution today.
Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell has 10 tech initiatives that air to prepare the city’s public data for Web-friendly browsing. They are launching a one-stop online shop (MySeattle.gov) where residents can access city services, vote on or discuss ideas, and even make it possible for residents to report potholes with a tap on their cell phones. A simple version of the Seattle data portal is set to launch by the end of the year. In Washington, D.C., an iPhone application called AreYouSafeDC uses mapped crime data to tell you how safe you are where you stand. And in the United Kingdom, FixMyStreet.com forwards cell phone-submitted street problems to the appropriate government agency.
This August, the city of San Francisco launched an effort to build a publicly accessible database of machine-readable, API-accessible government data called DataSF.org. It can be used by developers to create new mashup apps applications, mixing sites like Google Maps and platforms like the iPhone, with public data.
EcoFinder (left), is an iPhone application that helps residents recycle based on their location. It was built using recycling data released by the city’s Department of Energy.
DataSF.org currently includes more than 100 datasets, from a range of city departments, including the San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Works, and the Municipal Transportation Agency. Users can search for datasets as well as add tags, ratings and comments to the available data. There’s also an option to request new or additional sets of data.
Mayor Gavin Newsom wrote in a blog post, “We hope DataSF.org will create a torrent of innovation similar to when the developer community was given access to the platforms behind popular technologies and devices like Facebook and Apple’s iPhone.”
Portland is the home of Linux creator Linus Torvalds, wiki inventor Ward Cunningham, mobile development shops like Small Society (which built iPhone apps for Obama, Starbucks, ZipCar and others), Urban Airship (an iPhone push infrastructure), and our own Android guru, Don Park.
Open source resource mapping projects like Oregon Explorer (www.oregonexplorer.info) and Willamette Basin Explorer (willametteexplorer.info) can make databases, created by government silos, available to everyone using the expertise of Oregon State’s Open Source Lab. OpenOceanMap (ohloh.net) is an ambitious project to break the ties of traditional geo-spatial data collection and develop a truly cross platform, Open Source, and transportable decision support tool. Their Gulf Project demo shows the utility of combining open source data bases.
Local governments that have made their 3D data available on Google Earth include Boston Redevelopment Authority, City of Amherst, Massachusetts, and Boise, Idaho.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, charged with monitoring more than 18,300 miles of state highways and 3,600 bridges, is creating a single, seamless repository of transportation information covering the entire state — from the small private road to the primary arterials. The system integrates disparate county data into a centralized database. The team chose Vancouver, BC-based Safe Software’s FME which enables GIS professionals to translate, transform, integrate and distribute spatial data from more than 225 formats.
The Linux Foundation supports the Linux community by offering technical information and education through its annual events, such as the Linux Collaboration Summit, the Linux Kernel Summit, and the general LinuxCon event, inaugurated in September 2009.
Libelium says they have the world’s only multiprotocol mesh router to combine Wifi, ZigBee, GPRS, Bluetooth and GPS technologies. Their Meshlium device can also be powered by solar panels, or connected to the power supply or car lighter.
Libelium released an open source licensed Meshlium Manager System 2.0 software, from which you can configure wireless interfaces, GPRS, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and GPS Meshlium multiprotocol router.
The Meshlium Manager System is the first application made with free software that allows you to configure routers for creating mesh networks, says the company. This software is Open Source and the code is released under the terms of the GPL2 License.
Some of the improvements of this version are the addition of a RADIUS server for WPA2 authentication and an editor of AT commands for the ZigBee module. But the most important one, says the company, is its new plugin system that allows adding features in a simple and scalable way.
Another organizatin, Open-Mesh, is a group of volunteers dedicated to community-owned WiFi. Their primary mission is to develop WiFi deployment models that are flexible and affordable enough to work in low-income and developing areas of the world, yet powerful and reliable enough to thrive in commercial applications.
They are guided by several principles:
- The firmware should be open-source. It should contain as little “compiled” code as possible so it can be understood, extended, and modified by users.
- The platform should be open to all manufacturers. Not only will we “tolerate” competing products, but we will actively promote and encourage them. All hardware should be easily “reflashable” to encourage modification, extension or even replacement with other solutions.
- You should own your own network. Management should be available as a free “hosted” solution, but you should also be able to run your own dashboard, either by writing your own or by using open-source solutions.
- Products should be as low-cost as possible so they can be affordable for those that need them the most.
Many manufacturers, including Accton, Engenius, Ubiquiti and Wiligear, build compatible products and promote the Open-Mesh project. Captive Portal providers include Coova, WiFi-CPA, WifiGator and Worldspot.net and open-source dashboard projects such as Orange Mesh.
If the goal is free internet access (with or without advertising), then one solution may be unused tv channels (white spaces). They can cover a city block, inside and out. For backbone, the 2150-2180 Mhz band is available.
This resource is unused and costs nothing. Android and Apple demonstrated the untapped creative power of individuals. It has empowered everyone. “Walled gardens” are anathema to this freedom.
San Francisco’s solar-powered transit shelter WiFi will generate at least $300 million for over the 20-year term of the contract, says The City. The solar-powered shelters, the first of at least 1,100, will replace existing shelters around the City.
“Transit shelters that use photovoltaics, LEDs, and WiFi are going to be standard in the future – and I’m proud that San Francisco is once again acting like the pacecar for other cities by trying and implementing these technologies,” said Mayor Newsom.
In other news, on October 8, 2009, the DOE announced $10M in grants for 40 new Solar America Cities Special Projects in 16 cities.
Portland was awarded funding for the Solar America Cities Program. Project partners will work with other city bureaus to streamline city-level regulations for contractors, homeowners, and businesses.
The city will use its influence as a regulator, educator, and motivator to reach the larger regional community. In partnership with the DOE, the City of Portland expects to have become a leader in solar energy by 2010.