The City of Albuquerque is embracing transparency in an unusual way. The city’s Information Technology department has opened the databases the city uses to make decisions on everything from air quality to food inspections because they want web application developers to turn it into something that’s useful for people.
The city’s first venture into the apps world resulted in the popular “Where’s my bus?” app, which has proved popular for citizens waiting impatiently at a bus stop. The application for iPhones and iPads tells you where the bus you are waiting for is actually located and approximately how long you have to wait. That application has been especially successful and helpful to UNM students since the city helped equip UNM parking shuttle buses with GPS systems. The buses ferry students between campus parking lots and the main campus. Those open datasets are also being used by Google Maps, HopStop, AppCityLife, Text2Ride and Albuquerque Next Bus.
Peter Ambs, the new chief information officer for the City of Albuquerque, is asking UNM students and faculty to come up with new ways to use the databases and UNM professors, such as Anderson School of Management Associate Professor Nick Flor, are beginning to give classes assignments that use the data sets.