NEWSWIRE: City’s open data push moves ahead

Biz buzz: Each year, local business owners, bankers, agency representatives, elected officials and more meet to mingle and munch at AdvantageWest’s annual Economic Summit. photo by Max Cooper

Asheville's open-data campaign is gaining momentum as the city continues to release more data and has opened up a nominating process for prioritizing what to make available next. Landlord and housing-safety complaints, restaurant inspections, greenways and city staff salaries are among the kinds of information residents have already said they'd like to see opened to the public.

“Some things are just really low-hanging fruit, like greenways: We already have the map data,” notes Scott Barnwell, a GIS mapper with the city who also heads up the local Code for America volunteer brigade. Other items, such as building permits, could take a bit longer.

The city's open-data catalog (, still in beta format, now includes information on county roads, local historic districts and more. All data is instantly updated whenever the city modifies the records.

The nominating process ( requires residents to register on the catalog website, after which they can vote on what they'd like to see the city make available or put forward their own suggestions. Users can also submit relevant data they may have.

“We're starting to get a little movement,” says Barnwell. “We're trying to make sure everyone stays on board and sees this as a good step forward.”

The volunteer brigade held its inaugural meeting Nov. 26 at Asheville Brewing and now has more than 20 people communicating online.

“We're seeing where we want to go, what kind of policy goals we want, what skill sets we have at the table,” he explains. “We're seeing a lot of new faces, which is great.” — David Forbes

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