Image credit: Streetfilms
From showcasing Bogota's revolutionary transit policies, to the search for the mythical ZoZo, the thing I have always liked about StreetFilms is their ability to move beyond individual examples of best practice, and use that as a forum to explore the big ideas behind better transit and better cities. Their latest offering is no exception—looking at what happens when transit authorities hand over the keys to their data, and let the people take control. There's even lessons to be learned for the broader role of Government in the 21st Century—lessons that, for once at least, the left and the right might be able to agree on. Traditionally, transit authorities have kept close tabs on who has access to their data, and how it can be used. These organizations have taken it upon themselves not just to be the provider of public transit, but also the provider of information about public transit. But more recently, transit providers everywhere have realized that by unlocking their data, they can gain access to a vast network of developers and thinkers who will take on the task of creating websites, publications, iPhone apps and any number of other systems for helping people use public transit better.
The idea has resonance way beyond transit too. Proponents of open data argue that it is just one more example of "government 2.0", or the idea if government as a platform provider, not a service provider. I don't have the data to prove it, but that seems like an idea that tea partiers and lefties alike should be able to agree on.