Mark Headd, Author at Accela

Posts by Mark Headd

What Works Cities Summit: The Power of Data Goes Mainstream

Mark Headd
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…. Continue reading

Yes, Open Data Day Exists, and There Are Civic Hacking Events to Celebrate It

Mark Headd
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…. Continue reading


2015: The Year in Building Permits

Mark Headd
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…. Continue reading

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Civicist Guest Blog: What CitiStat Staffers Should Know about Open Data

Mark Headd
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,… Continue reading

Announcing BLDS 1.0

Mark Headd
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,… Continue reading

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Civic Innovation in the Triangle

Mark Headd
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…. Continue reading

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Developing a Data Standard for Building Permits

Mark Headd
At Accela, we understand the power of permit data. For the past several months, Accela has been working with a broad consortium of stakeholders to develop a data standard for building permits issued by cities and counties. We’re helping a growing number of our customers publish their data in this format and we’ve been hard at work building a prototype application based on this new data standard. Now we want you to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty using this data — we want to hear what people think of the data we’re currently publishing, and what they’d like to see in a new building permit data standard…. Continue reading

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Announcing the Accela Connect Hackathon Winners!

Mark Headd
The Accela Connect Conference – held from March 1st through 4th at the Squaw Valley Resort in Olympic Valley, California – brought together Accela staff, partners and developers for four great days of networking, training and discussions. And, of course, we found some time to do some civic hacking. We kicked off our annual partner conference with a one-day hackathon! Civic technologists, developers and Accela staff worked together to build new solutions using government open data hosted on CivicData. Almost 30 developers signed up to participate in the event. By the end of the day, we received nine inspiring submissions, including: data visualizations and analytics, custom CivicData agencies,… Continue reading

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Hacking for Civic Good at CodeAcross 2015

Mark Headd
Code for America is holding its fourth annual CodeAcross event this month in the U.S. and around the world. On February 20 & 22 join government agencies, developers, community organizers and others for a weekend of civic hacking and open data innovation. This weekend coincides with International Open Data Day as well as the last weekend of the Code for America Fellows’ residencies in their partner cities.The CodeAcross events bring together passionate groups of people and provides an opportunity for them to get involved in their communities. This year’s theme for the event is Principles for 21st Century Government, including: Design for people’s needs Make it easy for everyone to participate Focus on what government can do Make data easy to find and use Use data to make and improve decisions Choose the right technology Organize for results Accela is thrilled to not only be a supporter of Code for America,… Continue reading

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Help Showcase the Power of Open Data at the Accela Connect Hackathon

Mark Headd
Accela Connect is a four-day event in early March that will bring together developers, business partners, customers and Accela staff to discuss ways that we can strengthen the civic technology ecosystem and create new links between governments and those that they serve. You can read more about this event in a previous post on the Accela blog by Ken Sawtelle, Director of the Accela Center of Excellence. As part of the event, we’re holding an open data hackathon. The Accela Connect Hackathon will include civic technologists and developers and will focus on building new data visualizations using real government open data from Accela customers housed in the CivicData platform…. Continue reading

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