Triangle cities, towns open doors to data

It’s happened quietly. But the portals created by local governments to provide easy public access to all sorts of data are important for open, and better, government.

In the last five years, Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill have created “open data” portals where citizens can go online and browse all sorts of data as they wish. Now Wake Forest, helped by Girl Develop It, a nonprofit that encourages women to learn software development, is in the open data game as well.

What a terrific idea. Citizens can jump in an research data on car accidents, crime reports, anything that is open to them. And in the Triangle, thanks to enlightened local officials, that’s a lot.

The access is constructive. Consider a citizens’ group that might advocate for more bicycle lanes. Members could gain access, through these portals, to traffic information or the number of bicycle accidents and other information and use such information to make their cases.

And those interested in neighborhood causes could find data that might help them argue for stop signs or traffic signals. Neighbors worried about crime could study statistics on their areas.

The portal addresses are as follows: Raleigh is at data.raleighnc.gov; Durham is at opendurham.nc.gov, Cary is at data.townofcary.org; Chapel Hill is at chapelhillopendata.org; Wake Forest is at data2.wakeforestnc.opendata.arcgis.com.