More than 500 people have visited Oakland County’s new open data portal, which was launched Nov. 1 and offers access to 92 data sets.

Oakland County, Mich., is located just northwest of Detroit and has a population of 1.2 million. While the county has supported Access Oakland, a compendium of data sets containing information about the county, for years, this new portal offers both raw data sets and mapping applications. Phil Bertolini, chief information officer (CIO) of Oakland County, said the new Access Oakland offers more transparency than in previous years.

In the fall of 2015, Oakland County signed an enterprise license agreement with Esri allowing municipal governments and constituents the ability to use ArcGIS tools in tandem with data sets for free. Previously, the county would package the information and sell it with the tools to manipulate it, yielding about $4,500 a year. However, Bertolini said that the county was spending more money packaging the information than they were selling it.

Through the data sets and maps, people can view businesses, park sites, environmental information, and real estate information. Tammi Shepherd, chief of application services at Oakland County’s Department of Information Technology, said this is useful for families and businesses that want to move to their area.

“County data is not just county data,” Shepherd said. “We’re giving people the opportunity to make important decisions.”

Sixty-two villages and townships, as well as thousands of businesses, make up Oakland County. Bertolini said that he and his team are meeting with local governments to find out what data they would like to have access to. They are setting up roadshows, where they will travel throughout Oakland County and meet with municipalities. Access Oakland will also feature story maps every month for people to use. Bertolini said, as the portal grows, he will continue to meet with constituents to gauge their feedback and needs.

“There are a large number of governments that don’t work together. We’ve been offering shared services for 40 years. We always look at what our other governments can use,” Bertolini said. “It’s not done yet. We don’t always know what kind of data people want. An open data portal is only as good as the point in time that it’s launched. This needs to be a living, breathing thing.”


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