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By Steve Jones,
San Francisco passed an Open Data law a few years ago. The idea was for the goverment to make a reasonable effort to make data about the city, it's services, and more, publicly available. This was supposed to make government more accountable and more transparent, but also allow toold to be built that could help the citizens or the government itself.
Since then, more governments have opened up their data, and the experiments are growing. Various people have built applications for mobile devices that help citizens find and use services, and there are a few businesses that are using the data.
Is this important for you as a data professional outside of San Francisco? I think it gives you an opportunity to work with data, and even build some tool yourself that might perform analysis for visualization. You have the chance to use the data to showcase your talent, or even practice your query skills in looking for patterns or mining the data.
There are any number of uses for this data, but not the least of which is a personal project that you take pride in, and show off in your next interview or review. You might even find ways to take those skills and apply them to data inside your company.
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