Either because of Texas' Public Information Law or Texas culture, the state has more data made public by default than others
A week's gone by since I sparked an unexpected ruckus with my inaugural Hack Tyler post. I had no idea it was going to find resonance with so many people. I've received comments from coders, journalists and government wonks of all stripes. Even more exciting, I've heard from a diverse cast of current and former citizens of Tyler -- some wild about my ideas and some ... less so. I even heard from a local high school student who wants to become a coder, but isn't sure where to start.
I've tried to respond to everyone as best I can, however, I've made a conscious decision not to try to correct every misconception about what I've written. If folks are concerned I might to be about to embark on some carpetbagging idealistic crusade against the local government, I'm happy to try to sort those concerns out individually. I'm not about to turn this blog into policy. I want to spend my time actually doing things.
To that end, I've spent the last week focusing on the data made available by the City of Tyler and its parent, Smith County. I've created a list of all data sources I've been able to identify. Its been heartening to see how much data actually is available (albeit often in less than ideal formats). A few items are of particular note:
- Tyler and Smith County have a joint GIS repository that is quite extensive and (ostensibly) updated at regular intervals.
- Tyler has a real-time list of where its police officers are responding to calls. I've never seen this in any other city. (It seems to have been a student capstone project.)
- Smith County has put most, if not all, of its financial documentation online.