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Mark Headd
Works at Accela, Inc.
Attended Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Lives in Syracuse, NY
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Mark Headd

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If a city had an open data policy that says city agencies should release data, and an open records policy that says agencies can deny requests for information without notice or explanation, then does that city really have an open data policy?

Serious question.

https://gist.github.com/mheadd/b6a2f0667181bcfd1955
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not really. No.
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In a January 20th opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, former Nutter Administration official Terry Gillen called on candidates in this year’s Mayoral election to make ethics reform a key part of their platforms, to “prevent city government from backsliding into corruption.”

Gillen is right to call for such a commitment, and candidates would do well to clearly articulate their plans to foster and maintain an ethical city government. But for voters in Philadelphia, the choice in this year’s election is not just about electing candidates that support ethics - its also about what specifically that commitment to ethics will look like.

Over his two terms in office, Mayor Nutter has taken steps to institutionalize ethics and has appointed top officials to help execute his vision for a more effective city government. (I had the great privilege to work with one of these officials - Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman - during my time in city government.) However, it is worth noting that over the course of his two terms as Mayor, the idea of what an “ethical government” means has changed rather dramatically. Whatever it meant in 2008, the contemporary vision of an ethical, open government is one that is built on a foundation of information - or more specifically, data.

In 2015 and beyond, citizens need no longer rely solely on champions within government to ensure ethical behavior on the part of elected or appointed officials. The inexorable march of technological advancement has placed powerful tools for processing and displaying data - tools once beyond the reach of most people - into the hands of ordinary citizens. This has enabled people in cities across the country (and around the world) to have a more intimate view into the operation of their governments and the behavior of public officials than they have ever had before.

In Chicago, citizens can track the progress of snow plows in real time and monitor when flooding causes excess wastewater to be dumped into nearby lakes and rivers as it occurs. In New York City, citizens can get a granular view of city spending and download the salaries of all government officials. And in Philadelphia, citizens can create a custom view of crime incidents that have occurred on a neighborhood level and track how much the arrival and departure times of SEPTA trains diverge from the public schedule. All of these examples, and the many others being built around the country, are made by private citizens using “open data” from the government.

Open data means information that is released by governments in specific formats that make it possible to be used by others - researchers, journalists, entrepreneurs, civic activists, etc. The City of Philadelphia has been a national leader in open data since the launch of the community website opendataphilly.org in 2011. In 2012, Mayor Nutter signed an executive order to make releasing open data an official policy of city government, and since then dozens of new city data sets have been released to the public.

But as the third anniversary of the signing of this executive order approaches, followed closely by the Philadelphia Democratic Primary, it seems appropriate for Philadelphians to take stock of how open their city government really is. The record of the current Administration on open data may provide some guidance for voters as they head to the polls in just a few short months.

For example, despite the adoption of the executive order on open data the city has not yet released detailed spending information in an open format or a list of the salaries for public officials and employees - almost every other large city in America currently makes these kinds of information available as open data. The city has not yet released data on property tax collections or ownership information for derelict properties that is of great interest in neighborhoods across the city. And the process used by the city to respond to public Right to Know Requests is slow and cumbersome and often fails to live up to the rhetoric around the open data effort.

Philadelphia voters have an opportunity to ensure that their next Mayor is as committed to the idea of ethical government as the outgoing one. They now have the opportunity to ask candidates to clearly articulate their plans for ensuring that city government is open, ethical and responsive. 

Mayor Nutter famously located the office of the Chief Integrity Officer directly next to his own in the  Mayoral office suite to send a message to everyone in city government that ethics was a priority in his administration. It’s time for the next Mayor of Philadelphia to send the the same kind of message about the importance of publishing open data.
By Terry Gillen<br/>Early in the Nutter administration, Joan Markman, the city's first chief integrity officer, met with several city officials to ask them why they had attended a reception without paying. Someone who was there told me that one of the officials sincerely offered this explanation: "My staff works hard and they need perks."
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I originally wrote this as an op ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer - reposting here.
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The benefits of treating data like an operational asset are real, and governments that fully embrace open data stand to benefit the most.
The benefits of treating data like an operational asset are real, and governments that fully embrace open data stand to benefit the most. When governments open up data that they make use of themsel...
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Data has become as important as the voting booth to participating in a modern democracy. 
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Getting started with #opendata does not have to be hard.
Mark Headd, Philadelphia's former chief data officer, and others offer practical steps any government can use to start or improve open data programs.
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Current status.
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Unmournable Bodies - insightful commentary on the #jesuischarlie tragedy.
The Eiffel Tower after its lights were shut off in memory of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo; January 8, 2015. Credit Photograph by Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu / Getty
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Still time left to submit a project for the Central New York Civic App Challenge.
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The new London Datastore is massively impressive.

"Now is the time to exhibit what can really be done to the significant constituency for whom the value of city data does still need to be proved."
So London Datastore Mark II (LDS II) is here. The beads of sweat are still trickling down the brows of technical colleagues and our developers, DataPress. It is very largely thanks to them that you can enjoy this site's technical splendour. As the team here at City Hall ploughed through ...
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Mark Headd

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The new London Datastore is massively impressive.

"Now is the time to exhibit what can really be done to the significant constituency for whom the value of city data does still need to be proved."
So London Datastore Mark II (LDS II) is here. The beads of sweat are still trickling down the brows of technical colleagues and our developers, DataPress. It is very largely thanks to them that you can enjoy this site's technical splendour. As the team here at City Hall ploughed through ...
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Discussion of democracy and technology with food & beer. Seriously, why would you not want to go to this.
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Work
Occupation
Writer, Speaker, Hacker.
Employment
  • Accela, Inc.
    Developer Evangelist, 2014 - present
  • City of Philadelphia
    Chief Data Officer, 2012 - 2014
  • Code for America
    Director of Government Relations, 2012 - 2012
  • Voxeo Labs
    Developer Evangelist, 2010 - 2012
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Syracuse, NY
Previously
Wilmington, DE - Cortland, NY - Albany, NY - Philadelphia, PA
Links
YouTube
Contributor to
Links
Story
Tagline
Once you hack, you never go back.
Introduction

Mark Headd is a writer, speaker, teacher and thought leader on communication technologies and open government. Self taught in programming, he has been developing telephone, mobile, speech recognition and messaging applications for over 10 years and has deep experience in communication technologies.

In August, 2012, the Nutter Administration selected Mark to become the City of Philadelphia’s first Chief Data Officer, to lead Mayor Nutter’s open data and government transparency initiatives.

Mark has worked for technology companies from the Delaware Valley to Silicon Valley.  He previously worked as Director of Government Relations at Code for America, culminating a period of almost 2 years of collaboration with the organization on open government and civic hacking projects around the country.

Mark previously served in government, working for three years as the chief policy and budget advisor for the State of Delaware’s Department of Technology and Information. He has also served as Director of the Delaware Government Information Center, as Technology Adviser to former Delaware Governor Thomas R. Carper, and in the New York State Senate as a budget and finance analyst.

Mark has built open government software applications for the District of Columbia, the Sunlight Foundation, the New York State Senate, and the cities of New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Baltimore and Philadelphia. He is an organizer, judge, sponsor and participant in civic hacking events across the country, including Philadelphia and Baltimore.

He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and is a former adjunct instructor at the University of Delaware teaching a course in electronic government.

Education
  • Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
    Public Administration
  • SUNY College at Cortland
    Political Science
  • Hard Knocks, School of
    Livin
Basic Information
Gender
Male