Volunteers create open portal to town data

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A group of tech-savvy volunteers working independently of town government has launched an open data portal presenting accurate information about Arlington.

The site -- at arlingtonma.info/governance/welcome-website/ -- aims to be a one-stop location for trusted financial, demographic and statistical data about the town, from reliable sources and without an agenda.

This is not a official project of the town, but those involved have been working collaboratively with town officials.

Participating are Shane Curcuru, the founder, who has a lengthy background in open-source computing; Annie LaCourt, the project manager, who is a former Select Board member; and volunteers Steve Berczuk, Greg Christiana and Alan Jones.

Initial presentations on the site compare Arlington police salaries and staffing with those of similar towns, or those communities known as the "Town Manager 12." These are towns deemed similar in demographics to Arlington and have been used during town and school union negotiations since 2011. You can see an example of how the town uses this information to compare communities in the 2019 Public Annual Financial Report (scroll down to "How Arlington Compares ...").

Effort to come are further numbers about police and schools.

"We plan to expand the data catalog over time based on requests from residents for data they are interested in as well as making already available data more accessible," wrote LaCourt, in announcing the launch.

Those involved are seeking residents with a background in data science and skilled in open-source computer platforms. To inquire, email ArlingtonMAInfo at gmail.com.

You can also use this email to suggest data you would like to see on the site.

The organizers hope to provide the public with direct downloads to data.

The new website is not about politics, advocacy work (other than providing open data) and hearsay.

July 27, 2020: Town police launch news website

This news announcement was published Friday, July 31, 2020.

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