Among my duties on the Milwaukee County Board is to chair the Technology, Efficiency, Adaptability & Modernization (TEAM) Committee, also known as the Technology Committee. It’s a special committee that meets at my calling, and does not create legislation. That said, it provides information to the rest of the Board for consideration by a regular (standing) committee, and then consideration by the full Board. People from the County’s Information Management Services Department (IMSD) speak to us and work with us on the various projects that come through the committee.
Today’s agenda had just three items, which I’ll go through line by line.
1. Presentation on implementing Open Data Standards (Matt Richardson, Milwaukee Data Initiative)
Open Data Standards are a way to turn the great piles of data that the Government accrues and make them readily available to the public. By making the data available, people on the outside can do cool things with it. For an example close to home, see what the City of Madison has done with its open data project, which they implemented just last year. They publish assessor property information, police data, and transit data, among other things. (Personally, I find the Vacant Land Sales page to be very interesting.) All of this was from data that the City of Madison already had on hand. But without the open data legislation by Madison Alder Scott Resnick, it wouldn’t be available in this fashion.
In Milwaukee County, we have arguably much more data available from many departments. Think of the possibilities. Then, we will begin to act on them.
Matt Richardson from the Milwaukee Data Initiative (creators of the MCTS Transit Stops and Times project) gave a presentation on what can be done with Open Data. Matt was able to answer questions from IMSD Director Chris Lindberg. James Carlson of Bucketworks also testified to the committee about the great improvements that we could gain through adopting open data. Director Lindberg, Mr. Richardson, and Mr. Carlson all expressed a great interest in working with one another. It is exciting to bring these new opportunities for systematic improvement to the County, and I think that the great technology community that we have here in Milwaukee to help pull the County into the future. With our work, it will be a portable, open technological future.
2. Update on Desktop Transformation Project (Laurie Panella, IMSD)
IMSD has been working on a detailed plan to transition the County away from Windows XP and Lotus Notes, which is (still) the base platform for most of our PCs. We also have dozens, if not hundreds, of customer applications written in Lotus Notes Domino and MS Access. IMSD presented their plan to move us, department by department, off of XP and onto Windows 7.
Director Lindberg also noted that the department has successfully transitioned the County’s IT backbone away from being based on from a super-extended local-area network and onto a fiber optic-based wide-area network. I don’t think I want to know how they made a LAN stretch from the Courthouse to the County Grounds in Tosa, but, it was done. I’m just glad it’s running on fiber now.
3. Schedule Next Meeting
As we meet at the call of the chair, I will do just that.