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SF Parks Portal Baffling, and is Data Open?

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San Francisco is soon to unveil a new website that tracks goings-on in public parks. If you're holding a public-park event, you can enter it into the website, and then (the thinking goes) users will browse around, find your details, and show up for your BBQ or whatever. Sounds like a nice enough idea, provided that they can get people to actually use it.

Frankly, we couldn't figure it out: there are eighteen different categories on the homepage (with weird titles like "social development" and "special events") and you have to fill out a form (featuring "subcategories" and multiple types of "locations") just to browse events. Most aggravating of all, there's no map! Anywhere! (Update: We have been informed that there are, in fact, maps somewhere on the site.) According to SF Weekly, no public money was spent on this visitor from 1997, so that's a relief.

And another thing! Will this be an open database or a closed database? San Francisco's databases have been plagued by secrecy issues, with supposedly-public data locked in government filing cabinets. Will this park database be accessible to sites like EveryBlock and SeeClickFix and, you know, the public? That sure would be nice, but we're not holding our breath.

· San Francisco to Unveil Parks Portal [SF Weekly]
· Cities Roll Out Easy-to-Use [sic] Online ‘Parks Portal’ [Public CEO]