“We’ve built a culture inside city hall where people feel comfortable and excited about using data and opening it up – which is a special thing to have happen,” Nemani says. “There’s also an increasingly energetic and passionate community outside city hall using that data to get things done.”
The city releases APIs to all of its public data sets so that coders can grab the data and make it part of their own applications. One company, for example, is using city emergency services data to fuel an app that lets CPR-trained citizens respond to nearby cardiac incidents.
The city further encourages this data appropriation through civic hackathons, where tech volunteers use city data to tackle pressing challenges like drought, immigration, health concerns and traffic. A June event co-sponsored by the city on the National Day of Civic Hacking turned out more than 500 people, and monthly events turn out more than 100. Says Nemani: “The tech community in LA has been growing exponentially, and that has been a great asset to tap into.”