TCampAZ

Promoting civic data and government transparency in Arizona

Last week, AZCIR, in partnership with The Sunlight Foundation, hosted TCampAZ, a local version of the Transparency Camp un-conference that Sunlight Foundation created more than a decade ago.

The goal was fairly simple: gather people who work in the arena of public data to share the civic data advancements happening locally, discuss what challenges still lie ahead and connect people with great ideas so they can come up with the next big developments.

Thanks to all the participants who brought session ideas, we had lots of different conversations about public data, ranging from how to deal with data request denials and the ramifications of police use of cell site simulator devices and new law enforcement surveillance methods, to struggles acquiring corrections, police and fire department data, and whether Arizona is truly the most corrupt state – and what that means for civic data.

TCampAZ session board (Photo by Evan Wyloge/AZCIR)

We also heard from some organizations that are working each day to promote civic data promotion. Dominic Papa from the Institute for Digital Progress discussed their ongoing Smart City Hack contest, which promotes the development of new technological tools that will harness local government data. JPat Brown and Beryl Lipton from MuckRock demonstrated how to use the organization’s platform to craft and track records requests, and see what others have obtained already using freedom of information laws nationwide. They also showed what they’re doing to track private prisons around the country, but especially in Arizona.

Several arizona cities provided an update on, or a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re doing to help deliver civic data to the public. City of Tempe previewed its new data portal, which launched the same day. City of Phoenix talked about challenges they had to overcome when they launched their data portal in 2014, and previewed what sorts of new additions will come.

We’re thrilled with how TCampAZ turned out. Thanks to all the attendants, and thanks to all the sponsors and partners who helped support TCampAZ. Special thanks to Sunlight Foundation, Galvanize Phoenix, City of Mesa and Iced Dev.

– Evan Wyloge, AZCIR

David Cuillier, Director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism and Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Committee member, discusses strategies for how to handle a denial after submitting a public records request for public data. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/AZCIR)