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Mark Headd is a Technical Evangelist for Accela, where he plays a key role in shaping the company’s fast-growing developer program and platform vision. He is a writer, speaker and thought leader on communication technologies and open government. Self-taught in programming, he has been developing web, telephone, speech recognition and messaging applications for over 10 years. Most recently, the Nutter Administration selected him to become the City of Philadelphia’s first Chief Data Officer to lead the Mayor’s open data and government transparency initiatives.


Mr. Headd has worked for technology companies from the Delaware Valley to Silicon Valley and served as Director of Government Relations at Code for America. He has built open government software applications for the District of Columbia, the Sunlight Foundation, the New York State Senate and the cities of New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Baltimore and Philadelphia. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

What Works Cities Summit: The Power of Data Goes Mainstream

What Works Cities Summit: The Power of Data Goes Mainstream
A few weeks ago in New York City, government innovators from all over the country convened for the first ever “What Works Cities” Summit. What Works Cities (WWC) is an initiative of the Bloomberg Philanthropies that aims to bring open data and data analytics to 100 small and mid-sized American cities over the next several years. At the Summit, the first cohort of 27 cities came together for some presentations and practical advice from the leaders of a collection of organizations spearheading the WWC effort – the Center for Government Excellence , Results for America and the Sunlight Foundation . A number of the 27 cities currently taking part in the What Works Cities initiative are Accela customers and it is gratifying to see investment and energy focused on an area that we at Accela have long believed could bring tremendous benefits to state and local governments. In fact, bringing...
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Yes, Open Data Day Exists, and There Are Civic Hacking Events to Celebrate It

Yes, Open Data Day Exists, and There Are Civic Hacking Events to Celebrate It
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Accela has been barnstorming big cities in recent weeks, attending civic tech and open data events. Here’s a recap of several events that Accela has helped support in the first part of 2016. New York City School of Data New York City School of Data was held on international Open Data Day , joining New York with cities across the country and around the world to celebrate open data. The event also helped to commemorate the adoption of the city’s open data law. Over 260 people attended the event, which also included strong representation from young people and students that attending talks to learn about open data and getting involved with improving their neighborhoods. Accela was a sponsor of the event and I teamed up with City Councilperson Ben Kallos for a presentation on open source software, open data and open data standards . Philadelphia Democracy Hackathon In Philadelphia, an...
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2015: The Year in Building Permits

2015: The Year in Building Permits
2015 was a big year for building permits. This year, Accela led a coalition of civic technology companies and other stakeholders in the development of the first ever shared data specification for building permit data . This new standard is being implemented in cities across the country and will provide new and powerful insights into the operation of cities and the changing character of communities. To demonstrate the power of this new standard, we’re updating our year-end building permit review web app from last year to showcase four jurisdictions that are now publishing data in the new Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS) format. You can view our updated building permit review application here . This is a remarkably simple application – built with open source components and hosted on GitHub . But it provides some useful insights into the permitting activities of these four jurisdictions. For example, while permit...
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Civicist Guest Blog: What CitiStat Staffers Should Know about Open Data

Civicist Guest Blog: What CitiStat Staffers Should Know about Open Data
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The below is a reprint of my guest post on the Civicist blog earlier this year. You can find the original post here . One of the realities of being a chief data officer is that your day is often filled with meetings where you are the least popular person in the room. Working with government agencies to release data — particularly if agencies are new to the open data process, or if the data in question has not been released before — can be challenging. Releasing open data can invite scrutiny of agency operations from the public and the media. Agencies may view releasing open data as falling outside of their core mission, particularly if their plate is already full and there is little or no funding to support the work that needs to be done to make data available. Working with agencies to release data can be a...
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Announcing BLDS 1.0

Announcing BLDS 1.0
In May, I described a months-long process that was focused on the development of a new building permit data standard called the Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS, pronounced “builds”). When we discussed our work in helping to develop this standard, we made specific note of the importance of building permit data: “A shared standard for building permit data that can be adopted by multiple governments will help foster the development of new solutions that can be shared between jurisdictions. It will allow for analysis across jurisdictions, helping to highlight what works well and what doesn't. And, most importantly, it can help foster a better understanding of the permit process — which can have a direct impact on the neighborhoods we live in — by ensuring a common vocabulary for important events and activities.” Last week, we announced the  release of BLDS version 1.0 , which means that the standard...
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Civic Innovation in the Triangle

Civic Innovation in the Triangle
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This past weekend, a CityCamp unconference and hackathon were held in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Long known as a home for technology innovators, the area has hosted a CityCamp event for the last five years, and the event is now marketed statewide. I had the privilege to present as a keynote speaker at this year's event and to attend the weekend hackathon. CityCamp NC is an "unconference," where attendees collaboratively decide on the agenda for the event in a brainstorming session that takes place shortly after the event begins. CityCamp NC was also complemented by some planned sessions run by APPCityLife (an Accela Development partner) and Girl Develop It . A full house at Girl Develop It RDU's training session at CityCamp NC. In addition, a panel discussion kicked off the event where innovative uses of geospatial data by municipal governments in the state were showcased. Accela...
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