The inner-workings of any City Hall are slow, and quiet. These buildings are full of dedicated public servents diligently implementing policy, and making sure that decisions are properly vetted and approved. This is quite a massive culture shock to a band of programmers who are typically accustomed to the fast pace of startups. But the Open Data Steering Committee has been doing some very important work: cultivating the relationship with many different city of Tulsa departments, helping to brainstorm new projects, and helping to organize events and meetings that keep building the bridge between Tulsa’s open data community and the city.

In 2015, Tulsa was chosen in the first round of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities program. The $42 million initiative will choose 100 mid-sized cities to help improve their use of data-driven decision making, and provide better municipal services. The support will come in the form of expert consulting and peer-to-peer counseling.

This effort further helps to establish Tulsa as one of the country’s leaders in civic technology. As we continue to improve our open data policy, resources, and best-practices, we’ll also be given the opportunity to teach the other cities who come after us. Already, the Sunlight Foundation is using our Open Data Policy, created in 2013, as an example for other municipalities.

In 2016, we will continue to push forward and improve. At the end of 2015, the Mayor’s office signed the Open Data Executive Order, which establishes the Open Data Advisory Board. This new Advisory Board will serve to educate and collaborate with even more departments within City Hall, as well as work to re-design the Open Data Portal — a repository of all the public datasets published by the City.

We’ve been very excited about the groundwork that’s been done, and are looking forward to an exciting 2016!

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