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Metropolitan King County Council

Earning public trust, enhancing quality of life, protecting public health and safety
Metropolitan King County Council
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1000
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

council@kingcounty.gov
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Feb. 4, 2010

King County to offer data to local innovators

Dunn’s proposed ordinance would open County to application development business

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn today introduced legislation that would require county agencies to publish “high value data sets” –information ranging from crime statistics to the hourly amount of wastewater treated to the location of the nearest county park—on a county Web sites. This will allow people and businesses to disseminate the data to the public through the use of technology applications on websites and cell phones.

“Political leaders like to talk about what a smart region we live in and how we are going to harness their knowledge to improve government,” Dunn said. “This legislation will literally allow the smartest people from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others to use King County data in new and innovative ways. In the process, our citizens get access to more information and our government becomes more accessible.”

Jurisdictions across the country are turning to new forms of technology to give citizens more access to government. San Francisco recently created a Web site highlighting applications created by the public with access to the cities’ information and providing data to the public. New York City has also created a similar Web site that provides data from sidewalk cafes to historic houses.

“Technology is moving far faster than any of us can imagine. Government moves too slowly to be able to create these mechanisms for people to access our information,” Dunn said. “The invention of cell phone applications and open source computer codes has caused an explosion of innovation. Similarly, the release of county data in an easy to use format will encourage people to develop applications that use county data in ways the county would never have considered.”

The proposed legislation requires all county agencies to publish “high value data sets” online by June 1st. The data must be in an “open format,” which means platform independent, machine readable, and made available to the public without restrictions. The ordinance also includes privacy protections to ensure that any released data is appropriate for unrestricted public disclosure.

“Someday soon, transit information, county park events and crime data, could all be more accessible on mobile devices at no cost to King County,” said Dunn. “The possibilities are endless.”