Province of Rome: boosting public investments through CitySDK

 

CitySDK partner Province of Rome presented its Open Data portal in 2012, answering to the need to fulfill an institutional duty while gaining, most importantly, an extraordinary opportunity to better serve the local (and broader) community through transparency, raising the degree of participation from citizens. In practice, this respectable amount of data came from patient work, going through the competent office units looking for spreadsheets and miscellaneous databases (including paper sheets!) gathering data that had to be consolidated, polished and turned into useable datasets. Moreover, it was necessary to make sure that nothing that was going to be public would violate property rights or expose personal data, a process that required, in certain cases, specific authorization or acquisition tasks.

While this effort was well received by all stakeholders, it was soon evident that further investments had to be done. Transparency had been pursued and achieved, institutional duties where fulfilled but the degree of relation among datasets was low – you may read this CitySDK blog post from our friend and collaborator Simone Onofri for insights on relation among datasets.

Therefore, in a time when because of the economic crisis we are forced – as never before – to refrain from spending, we at Province of Rome had to find additional motivations for bringing these sort of “fine tuning” investments higher on the to do list of our institution – and here’s where CitySDK comes into play.

Improving datasets playing key role

Province of Rome brought, since the beginning of the project, several datasets into the CitySDK Smart Tourism domain describing touristic itineraries, museums and events happening in the territory of the Province. However, although during the exploitation of such data by the APIs and pilot applications developed within the project activities the need for an improvement of the datasets came out strong, an additional “trigger” was needed to start, within our highly structured institution, the process of refactoring those datasets at all levels, as they were often poorly related to each other.

As always, a bit of luck and the right timing are essential: the datasets initially brought into the CitySDK framework were created within the project “Roma&più” (Rome and more), and the idea of bringing new resources into the same project to keep producing data was actually “in the air” but deadlines and specific output were not set. Did I already say that CitySDK came into play?

Well, with CitySDK ongoing, we had one more reason (and a very good one!) to speed up the improvement of the data and to address the missing linking. We used catch phrases like “The Commission is asking us to improve our datasets” and “ALL other CitySDK partner cities publish much better data than we do” and so on, to communicate the importance of the improvement that were going to be achieved through the additional effort suggested by CitySDK.

Multilingual Tourism portal will be launched in June

Summing it up, the new “Roma&Più” multilingual tourism portal is scheduled to be launched on June 15 2014, and thanks to CitySDK we could ensure that the newly refactored datasets are going to be linked to a fairly good degree. Moreover, we are making plans for publishing Linked Open Data in the near future, with new creative possibilities offered to developers.

The synergy between Province of Rome and CitySDK plans towards data production has been very constructive and something we are proud of – after all, one of the main concepts behind European projects is to foster existing ideas allowing the development of new collaborative projects and infrastructures.

 

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