Open WNC, An 18-Countywide Open Government, Data, Records Project Launches

Published Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 10:02 am

During Sunshine Week, the week North Carolina news organizations recognize the role of an open and transparent government, Carolina Public Press announces the launch of Open WNC, an 18-county project open government, data and records portal that may be found at www.openwnc.org.

Open WNC is a website dedicated to improve access to information, data and research tools allowing for a more transparent local, county, regional and statewide government in North Carolina. A project of the nonprofit online news organization Carolina Public Press, the site aims to provide clear, fair and accurate information to encourage civic and community engagement. By putting public data online, in one place, Open WNC helps promote an accountable transparent government in the Western North Carolina region.

Students, working journalists, researchers, government leaders, community members and organizations may use the site to increase their understanding, reporting and analysis of issues facing Western North Carolina.

“We’ve spent more than a year working on building this unique resource that offers important details and insight into our communities and how our local and statewide government works,” said program director Paul Eggers.

Currently, the website offers information such as county budgets for each of the 18 westernmost counties of North Carolina. It also includes public meetings announcements and agendas, meeting minutes, and county-by-county data on topics ranging from community demographics, unemployment and wages to business and home ownership data. It also includes state government information such as direct links to state legislators’ homepages. All data and records included on the site will be vetted and include originating sources.

Access to www.openwnc.org is free and open to the public. The site will be continually updated, and the public may make requests for additional information, as well.

Carolina Public Press worked with Code for Asheville, a civic technology group, to launch the effort, which was made possible in part through a $10,000 OpenGovgrant from the Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation, which supports “open-source projects and tools [that] are opening up data and government information in innovative ways.”

“Journalists and reporters working for Carolina Public Press research, review and evaluate troves of public records and data,” said Angie Newsome, executive director of Carolina Public Press. “We wanted to take that information and make it really easy for people to learn, connect and participate in their communities.”

For more information on the Open WNC project, please visit www.openwnc.org.

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