A Look Inside Chicago's Open Gov Hack Nights

Megan DeGruttola | OpenSource Delivers | December 4, 2014

The government’s open data movement, sometimes referred to as Gov 2.0, has come a long way in the past few years. Most are familiar with the Obama administration’s open data initiative and the launch of Data.gov, but there are extremely active open data civic movements taking place in cities across the U.S.

I recently spoke with Derek Eder, an open data web developer who co-founded the civic tech group Open City and runs the organization’s weekly Open Gov Hack Nights in the city of Chicago. We discussed Chicago’s open government roots, the city’s passionate tech community, and the model Open Gov Hack Nights have set for other groups across the world.

Question: How did Open City get started and why did you begin hosting Open Gov Hack Nights?

Derek Eder: Open City started about three years ago when the city of Chicago got a new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who decided to release a bunch data that had not been openly available before. The mayor’s office dedicated staff to sourcing government datasets around things like crime, lobbyist spending, etc. and began releasing these datasets for free on the city’s data portal. Naturally, this attracted a lot of attention, mostly from developer and designer types who started looking at the data...