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Open Government Panel Discussion

  • The Rapid Central Station 250 Grandville Ave SW Grand Rapids, MI, 49503 United States (map)

The “Open Government” movement has encouraged governments around the world to open up their data to the public to view, analyze, and utilize in ways that will benefit us all. One recent example: "Grand Rapids 311 Customer Service Center” which offers a single point of contact for city services and programs with the mission of making the City more efficient, transparent, and responsive to Grand Rapidians. These technology advances can bring about better transparency and efficiency; however, their effectiveness is only as good as the data in the system. This is why the “Open Data” movement is so tightly integrated with “Open Government”.

For Citizens — this means access to better digital tools with timely information, as well as improving communication and relationships with public leaders.
For Governments — the process of opening up data gives the organization a chance to analyze its entire data ecosystem, improve internal operations, track improvements & results, and make better informed data-driven decisions.


Jonathan Pichot, Digital & Data Consultant, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Jonathan is an independent digital and data consultant currently working with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. He founded Friendly Code, a Code for America Brigade, that launched, in collaboration with the City, Grand Rapids Open Data this past February. He’s passionate about using data to drive civic innovation, and believes that cities are the ideal layer of government to build direct relationships with citizens.

Seth Axthelm, Developer Evangelist, Accela, Inc.

Seth is a Developer Evangelist for Accela where he plays a key role in shaping and growing the open data platform He works with many jurisdictions across the country helping to start and expand their open data initiatives. Seth has been working with city, county and state governments since 2005 assisting numerous municipalities streamlining their processes through the implementation of the Accela Civic Platform.
Prior to joining the Developer Evangelist team earlier this year, he was a Director of Solution Architecture for Accela Professional Services and most recently served as the solution architect for the New York State eLicensing program.

Ryan Harris, CRM Coordinator, Technology and Change Management Department for the City of Grand Rapids

With over eight years of experience at the City, Ryan brings a unique perspective on the importance of interactive-capacity where data and 311 are involved. Ryan’s perspective as an IT change agent will provide a business/IT view of the future of the 311 data-set to ensure participation with the public. 311 data will enable the ability to cultivate data-driven decisions and user-centric approaches to design tools that will be available to our community.

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