This blog is moving to

tl;dr: My blog is moving to Update your bookmarks and news readers!

After a fair amount of fiddling about I’m renaming my personal blog and moving to a new domain. From now on you can access the blog at (note the “https” rather than “http”).

You can read more about the changes in my first post at the new blog. Briefly, I wanted to separate the blog from my personal domain and have more control over the technology behind the blog, including eliminating the user tracking done by and providing better support for posts that include programming code and mathematical notation.

I have moved all of my old blog posts from to, although some of the older ones have minor formatting glitches I have yet to correct. For now you can access old posts at the URLs, but sometime in October (once I finish fixing any formatting problems) I will have all URLs pointing to posts automatically redirected to the posts on The bottom line is that if you have linked to any of my old posts those links should continue to work both now and in the future.

However if you use news reader software (e.g., NetNewsWire) or a news reader service (e.g., Feedly) to read my blog posts then you should reconfigure your software or service to use as the feed URL for the blog. I may be able to redirect previous feed URLs, but I cannot guarantee this will work in all cases.

Finally, an important note: The new blog does not support comments (for a number of reasons); instead I’m expecting people to comment on Facebook or Twitter, or just to send me email. If you really don’t like this and would much prefer to comment directly on blog posts, drop me a line (or post a comment below) and I’ll consider changing my decision.

Thanks to all of you who have read my blog over the years; see you at!

Get your county government data at the OpenHoward portal

tl;dr: Howard County government ups its game in providing data with a new web site Next stop, HoCoStat?

I’ve previously written about Howard County’s initial foray into publishing government data, the web site created by the Howard County GIS division. As announced by the county and reported by Amanda Yeager at the Baltimore Sun, Howard County has launched a new site to provide access to government data. This new site, also known as the OpenHoward portal1, can be considered as a concrete implementation of open data practices mandated by the Howard County Council (see Council Bill 32-2014) and as a down payment on County Executive Allan Kittleman’s campaign promise to create an automated system (“HoCoStat”) to “help government increase responsiveness, improve efficiency and heighten accountability”.

But enough marketing speak, what is this thing really? Briefly, the site, like the original site, is a web site that allows you to view and download various datasets relating to Howard County government activities and Howard County in general. However in other respects the new OpenHoward site goes well beyond what the previous site offers. First, the new site includes many types of data not previously available on the older site, including (to take but two examples) datasets relating to county budgets and police reports.

Second, the new site has a search facility that is extremely handy when trying to find data and datasets of interest. For example, since the renovation of Merriweather Post Pavilion has been in the news I decided to search for “Merriweather”. The search returned (among other things) datasets and records relating to police reports, reports from the Tell HoCo web site and mobile app used to report potholes, broken street lamps, and other problems, and a list of payments the county made relating to Wine in the Woods. I also tried searching for the name of the street I live on, and got a similar mix of results. I predict that this will be a popular use of the site.

Finally, the new site offers an application programming interface (API) by which independent developers can create applications that access the data in real-time. Most people won’t care about this, but (among other things) it offers local Howard County businesses and motivated individuals a way to create their own applications to add value to the underlying county data.

The site was not built from scratch, but was instead deployed using the online service provided by Socrata, a Seattle-based private company specializing in helping governments to implement open data initiatives. Socrata’s is a “cloud-based” or “software as a service” (SaaS) offering, meaning that Howard County did not purchase software and hardware to run the site, but instead pays a ongoing subscription fee to host its data on Socrata’s servers running Socrata’s software. We’ll see in future exactly how much Howard County is paying Socrata for this service (since presumably it will show up in the “Payments to Vendors” database), but based on an independent analysis of Socrata pricing it’s likely that the cost to the county is on the order of several thousand dollars per month.

That may sound like a lot, but you have to compare it to the fully-burdened cost (i.e., including salaries, heath care, and pensions) of having Howard County employees build the site, or the cost of having a contractor develop a custom site.2 Socrata appears to be a market leader in the open data space, is growing rapidly, and has a coherent vision for future product offerings. Socrata also has other customers in Maryland at both the state and local levels, with Socrata powering the Open Data Portal used in the StateStat system, as well as open data portals and related applications for Baltimore City and Montgomery County.3

In general I think going with Socrata was a good decision for the county. The site looks pretty functional from the point of view of both beginners and more advanced users, Socrata appears to have good mechanisms for getting new datasets into their system, and the provision of an API is a plus for advanced usage. Plus Socrata also has a separate Open Performance (GovStat) product that looks as if it would be a good base on which to build the HoCoStat system.

In comparison to the pluses my concerns about OpenHoward thus far are relatively minor. First, the site could use more datasets, and more data in existing datasets. (For example, there’s no police or fire and rescue data for 2015.) However the press release is upfront about this being a “beta” site at present, so presumably more data is on the way. One major potential lack is data on Howard County schools; I presume the Board of Education and Superintendent Foose would need to cooperate to get that done, and it’s an open question as to whether such cooperation will be forthcoming.

Second, I think the conditions for access to the site and its data need to be spelled out a bit more clearly. The original County Council bill CB32-2014 stated that “All accessible data … shall be made available without copyright, patent, trademark, or trade secret, or similar regulation other than reasonable privacy, security, and privilege restrictions.” In other words, all data published on the site is presumably in the public domain with no restrictions on its use. However it would be nice if that could be spelled out more explicitly. The terms of use for the API are somewhat unclear as well: There’s a basic level of API access available by default, and more intensive usage is possible by registering and getting an “application token”. These are both provided at no charge, but it’s not clear whether there is some level or type of API access that would incur a charge to the application developer or to application users. Again, this is worth spelling out.

Finally, what will happen to the existing site? Will its data be folded into the OpenHoward portal and the original site decommissioned, or will it continue to operate? I confess to a personal interest in this, since I’ve previously published analyses that pull datasets from the older site, and if the old site goes away I’d like the web links I used to be redirected to the new site.

Leaving these relatively minor concerns aside, overall the launch of the OpenHoward portal is a very welcome event, and I’m looking forward to see how it and the larger HoCoStat initiatives evolve. Our thanks should go to all those who made this possible, including to Greg Fox, Jen Terrasa, and the other members of the Howard County Council for pushing Howard County to provide open accessible data, to Allan Kittleman for his work thus far to fulfill his campaign pledges around open access, and, most importantly, to those who did the real work, Chris Merdon’s staff in the Department of Technology and Communication Services.

1. Although both the county press release and the Baltimore Sun article reference the OpenHoward name, the actual web site doesn’t use that name. Maybe they’re still finalizing the logo and related branding?

2. Based on the figures on page 190 of the Howard County FY2016 proposed operating budget [PDF], personnel costs for the Department of Technology and Communication Services (the county’s IT department) appear to be almost $100,000 per employee on average. So a hypothetical subscription fee of $8,000 a month would be equivalent to hiring one new employee.

2. The Maryland connection goes beyond what I mentioned: Beth Blauer, who headed up the Maryland StateStat project, subsequently worked at Socrata for a couple of years before leaving to head up the Center for Government Excellence at John Hopkins University.

The Crescent development by the numbers

Rendering of proposed Crescent development

Rendering of proposed Crescent development in downtown Columbia. Click for high resolution version. Image © 2014 Howard Hughes Corporation; used with permission.

tl;dr: The Crescent development in downtown Columbia is going to be a (very) big deal.

As reported by Amanda Yeager in the Baltimore Sun, the Howard County Planning Board recently approved FDP-DC-Crescent-1, the final development plan for phase 1 of the Crescent neighborhood of downtown Columbia, a development of the Howard Hughes Corporation. Unfortunately due to family issues I was not able to attend the Planning Board meeting and see for myself the presentations of the plan. However I did find and review copies of the Department of Planning and Zoning staff report [PDF], the final development plan itself [PDF], and the accompanying neighborhood concept plan [PDF]. For anyone interested I here briefly review what’s going on with the development. (For additional background see my post from a year ago, “The Crescent development in downtown Columbia: Areas and phases”, although a lot of the information in that post is now out of date.)

In Howard County planning terminology a “final development plan” is not really the final plan; that role is filled by the “site development plan”. The final development plan contains proposed boundaries for phase 1 of the Crescent development, intended uses for the various parcels and associated square footages and building heights, and other information relevant to the plan. It does not contain detailed plans of the actual buildings to be built. However just the raw numbers themselves are interesting and informative. To quote the Baltimore Sun,

The approved outline proposes 2,300 residences; a 250-room hotel; 1.475 million square feet of office space; 313,000 square feet of retail and 225,000 square feet of civic and cultural uses spread throughout four development areas on the property.

Crescent neighborhood site composite lot and parcel map

A map of the parcels and lots comprising the parts of the Crescent neighborhood covered by FDP-DC-Crescent-1. Click for high-resolution version. Image taken from page 3 of FDP-DC-Crescent-1, “Final Development Plan, Downtown Columbia, Crescent Neighborhood Phase 1”.

The four development areas are known (rather unimaginatively) as Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4, with locations and proposed uses as follows:

  • Area 1 includes Parcels A and B on the map shown, in the northwest corner of the Crescent development near the intersection of Broken Land Parkway and Little Patuxent Parkway. It is intended for office use along with a hotel, with some retail and restaurant space.
  • Area 2 includes Parcel C on the map, south of Area 1 on the east side of Broken Land Parkway. It is intended for mixed office and residential uses, with some retail and restaurant space.
  • Area 3 includes Parcel D on the map, south of Merriweather Post Pavilion and north of Broken Land Parkway. It is intended as the main “downtown” of the Crescent development, with office and residential uses, a much larger allotment of retail and restaurant space, and cultural and community facilities.
  • Area 4 includes Parcel E on the map, east of Area 1 just south of Little Patuxent Parkway. It is intended primarily for office use, with a small amount of retail and restaurant space.

There is also a significant amount of space that will be left undeveloped , including Lots 1, 2, and 3 on the map shown. These will serve as natural open space for the project, and can be considered extensions of the western and southern portions of Symphony Woods.

The table below summarizes all of the uses proposed for Areas 1 through 4, including the associated square footage and related details (from page 1 of FDP-DC-Crescent-1).

Area Use Planned
Area 1 (Parcels A and B) Office 600,000 SF
  Retail/Restaurant 25,000 SF
  Hotel 250 rooms
Area 2 (Parcel C) Office 300,000 SF
  Retail/Restaurant 30,000 SF
  Residential 500 units
Area 3 (Parcel D) Office 400,000 SF
  Retail/Restaurant 252,000 SF
  Residential 1800 units
  Cultural/Community 225,000 SF
Area 4 (Parcel E) Office 175,000 SF
  Retail/Restaurant 6,500 SF
All areas    
  Office 1,475,000 SF
  Retail/Restaurant 313,500 SF
  Residential 2,714,000 SF
  Hotel 150,000 SF
  Cultural/Community 225,000 SF
  All uses 4,877,500 SF

The final development plan does not describe the exact nature of the 225,000 SF of “Cultural/Community” space in Area 3. However in the pre-submission meeting Howard Hughes representatives discussed building in Area 3 a new Central Branch library (100,000 SF), a conference center (50,000 SF), an aquatic center (50,000 SF), and an indoor concert hall (25,000 SF).

In the pre-submission meeting Howard Hughes representatives also discussed locating all 2,300 residential units in Area 3 along with the 250-room hotel; no office space was planned for Area 3. The final development plan moves the hotel from Area 3 into Area 1, moves 500 residential units from Area 3 to Area 2, and puts 400,000 SF of office space into Area 3.

One major omission in the final development plan (really, the major omission) is a detailed discussion of parking. The slides presented in the pre-submission meeting contained detailed information on the number of parking spaces to be provided in each area through either surface parking lots or parking garages (which would eventually replace all the surface lots). None of that is in the final development plan. Apparently the exact parking arrangements will be covered in the site development plans to be submitted for each area, including proposals for how to compensate for the loss of the current gravel lots used for events at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Overall the Crescent development will make a major impact on downtown Columbia and Howard County overall. One good comparison is to look at Reston, Virginia, the other major planned community in the Washington/Baltimore area, and Reston Town Center, which is currently undergoing its final commercial buildout within its 84-acre core. Based on the figures in the Reston Town Center marketing brochure [PDF] published by its developer, here’s how Reston Town Center compares to the planned Crescent neighborhood:

  Reston Town Center (Present and Planned) Crescent (Planned)
Total acreage 84 acres 68 acres
Office 2.017 million SF 1.475 million SF
Retail/Restaurant 424,077 SF 313,500 SF
Residential 1,998 units 2,300 units
Hotel 518 rooms 250 rooms
Cultural/Community Unknown 225,000 SF
Parking Spaces 9,073 spaces TBD

When you factor in the office space just north of Little Patuxent Parkway (including 700,000 SF purchased by Howard Hughes Corporation from GGP) the downtown Columbia area will have roughly equivalent office space to Reston Town Center. When you add in the 1.438 million SF of leasable space at the Mall in Columbia the retail space will be significantly larger than in Reston Town Center. Finally, Reston Town Center has no equivalent to Merriweather Post Pavilion (or, for that matter, to the planned Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods). (However Reston Town Center does now have access to mass transit via the Metro Silver Line, as well as a much more vibrant office market in the surrounding area.)

As I noted in discussing the history of Howard County Council redistricting, on the tenth anniversary of Columbia former county commissioner and council member Charles Miller expressed regret that Columbia had ever been created. Now as Columbia approaches its 50th anniversary, current County Executive Allan Kittleman has promised that he will work to “[attract] large businesses to downtown Columbia so it may truly become the economic engine for our County”. The Crescent development will be the key to making that happen.

How politicians see Howard County

Howard County, Maryland precinct cartogram

Howard County, Maryland precinct cartogram. Precinct area is proportional to the number of registered voters as of the 2014 general election. Click for higher-resolution version.

tl;dr: The map of Howard County looks very different if you’re looking for votes. Cartograms help you see like a politician.

There are 118 election precincts in Howard County, Maryland, varying both in geographic area and in the number of voters they contain. Precincts in western Howard County tend to be larger, because the population density in western Howard is lower. Precincts in more densely populated areas of the county (including Columbia) tend to be smaller. If we’re interested in how voters behave across the county a conventional map can be misleading because the larger area of western Howard precincts causes us to overrate the importance and impact of those precincts. (This is similar to the US electoral map being visually dominated by large states like Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas that have fewer voters than small states like Connecticut and Rhode Island.)

The figure above is actually a map of Howard County electoral precincts, not as they exist in reality but as they might appear if their size were proportional to the number of voters they contain. More specifically, this is a cartogram in which the precinct map is distorted to make precinct areas proportional to the number of registered voters in each precinct as of the 2014 general election.

Allan Kittleman's victory margins by precinct.

Conventional map of Allan Kittleman’s election-day margin of victory in each precinct in the 2014 general election for Howard County Executive. Click for a higher-resolution version.

Let’s look at a real-life example of how cartograms can present a more accurate picture of election results. The next map shows Republican Allan Kittleman’s election-day margin of victory in each precinct in his 2014 race for Howard County Executive against Democrat Courtney Watson. (The margin of victory is expressed as votes per precinct, not as a percentage. Thus a value of 100 means that Kittleman received 100 more votes in a precinct on election day than Watson. The map does not include absentee and early voting results because they are not reported per precinct.)

Each precinct is colored from bright red (large Kittleman margin) to bright blue (large Watson margin) and all shades in between. (Incidentally, this type of colored map is known as a choropleth map.) Since precincts in western Howard County are both large and heavily Republican the conventional map exaggerates the extent of Kittleman’s election-day victory margin over Watson.

Cartogram of Allan Kittleman victory margins by precinct

Cartogram of Allan Kittleman’s election-day margin of victory in each precinct in the 2014 general election for Howard County Executive. Click for a higher resolution version.

To address this perceptual problem we can instead represent the exact same data in the form of a cartogram, as seen in the next map. Here the precincts of western Howard shrink in size to reflect their true contribution to the overall registered voter population. In particular Howard County Council District 5 now appears to be roughly equal in size to the other districts—which makes sense since county council redistricting had as one of its goals making the districts contain roughly equal number of voters. On this map Kittleman’s margin of victory still appears to be significant, but we can better identify precincts (like those in Columbia) in which Watson polled strongly on election day.

Cartograms can be used in place of conventional maps in any context in which each geographic subdivision has associated with it some common variable of interest. For example, suppose we want to look at elementary school overcrowding in Howard County. Looking at a conventional map (like the elementary school attendance area map provided by the Howard County Public School System) we might say, “Gee, there are a lot of elementary schools in eastern Howard. How could they possibly be overcrowded?” It would make much more sense to show school attendance areas as a cartogram in which the size of each attendance area was proportional to the number of students in that area. Each of the attendance areas could then be colored according to the extent of overcrowding at that school.

This sounds like a possible future project for me if and when I have time. Or if anyone out there would like to try this yourself, I’ve provided more detailed information on how to create maps like those shown above. See my three-part series “Creating Howard County Precinct Cartograms Based on 2014 Registered Voters” (part 1, part 2, and part 3) and my second three-part series “Allan Kittleman’s Election-Day Victory Margins in the Howard County 2014 General Election” (part 1, part 2, and part 3).

Useful datasets for Howard County election analysis

tl;dr: I release two useful Howard County election datasets in preparation for future posts.

In the coming days and weeks I’ll be posting some analyses of Howard County election results. Unfortunately the data released by the Howard County Board of Elections and the Maryland State Board of Elections is not always in the most useful form for analysis. In particular I was looking for per-precinct turnout statistics for the 2014 general election in Howard County, along with some way to match up precincts with the county council district of which they’re a part. That data is available in the 2014 general election results per precinct/district published by the Howard County Board of Elections, but unfortunately that document is a PDF document.

PDF files are great for reading by humans, but lousy for reading by machines. They violate guideline 8 in the Open Data Policy Guidelines published by the Sunlight Foundation:

For maximal access, data must be released in formats that lend themselves to easy and efficient reuse via technology. … This means releasing information in open formats (or “open standards”), in machine-readable formats, that are structured (or machine-processable) appropriately. … While formats such as HTML and PDF are easily opened for most computer users, these formats are difficult to convert the information to new uses.

Since the data I wanted wasn’t in a format I could use, I manually extracted the data from the PDF document and converted it into a useful format (Comma Separated Value or CSV format) myself. Then since someone else might find a use for them, I published the files online in a datasets area of my Github hocodata repository. The first two files are as follows:

  • hocomd-2014-precinct-council.csv. This dataset maps the 118 Howard County election precincts to the county council districts in which those precincts are included.
  • hocomd-2014-general-election-turnout.csv. This dataset contains turnout statistics for each of the 118 Howard County precincts in the 2014 general election, including the number of registered voters and ballots cast in each precinct on election day.

Stay tuned for some interesting ways to use this data.

Fun with Howard County building permit data

tl;dr: I have fun creating graphs and maps with building permit data from

I’ve written previously about the cornucopia of interesting data sets that Howard County government has made available at the site. I had some spare time over a long weekend and decided to try analyzing some of that data, including making use of the various map files on the site (under the “Spacial Data (GIS)” tab).

The particular data set I decided to start with was for building permits issued for residential and commercial construction—not because I have a burning interest in building permits but because I mentioned this type of data in my last post and thought it would be a relatively easy data set to analyze. The particular question I decided to look at was how many residential building permits were issued in each zip code within Howard County in 2014—basically to get a feel for where the most construction was occurring in the county. (It’s only an approximate measure because some permits cover multiple units.)

bar chart showing Howard County residential building permits per zip code

To do the analysis I used the skills and the tools I learned in the courses that are part of the Johns Hopkins data science specialization series on Coursera. (See my Coursera-related posts for more on my experiences in these classes.) I won’t go over the process here since I’ve separately published full details on my RPubs page, with the source code available in my hocodata GitHub repository.

I first created a simple table of the top zip codes for residential permits issued. This was sort of boring so I won’t reproduce it here; you can find it in the first example analysis I did. More interesting is the bar chart I created as part of the second example. It’s clear from the chart that there’s wide variation among Howard County zip codes in terms of residential construction. The two Ellicott City zip codes combined (21042 and 21043) accounted for the largest fraction of residential building permits in 2014; in contrast there were almost no permits issued for east Columbia (21045).

Howard County map showing residential building permits per zip code

However what I really wanted to create was a map showing exactly where permits were being issued across the county. The Howard County GIS division provides on a set of map data for zip codes within Howard County. After doing a bit of research and experimentation, in my third example I was able to use this in conjunction with the building permit data to produce a map that is a nice alternative to the bar chart.

I have to stop here and ask the unspoken question: What’s the point of all this? I’d answer as follows:

First, this shows that releasing government data empowers people to do interesting things with it, especially when combined with free software and easily available online information and training. Maybe everybody isn’t interested in building permit data or any other individual government data set, but I suspect that there are a fair amount of people out there who are, including small businesses, nonprofit organizations, or just individual activists and interested citizens.

Second, I did all this in a way that is completely reproducible by anyone else. How often have you seen a graph or map in a newspaper or government report and wondered, where exactly did that data come from? Wonder no longer: In my examples I start with the raw data as released by Howard County and show all my work in analyzing the data and creating the tables, charts, and maps.

Finally, this is all reusable and adaptable. For example, suppose you have a better source of data on construction activity, perhaps one that gives the actual numbers of residential units, commercial square footage, and so on. You can easily plug that modified data into the analysis steps I’ve documented, and create better versions of the charts and maps in my examples.

You can also reuse the overall technical approach for any type of data tied to a geographic area within Howard County. For example, in addition to zip code areas the site contains map data for Howard County school districts, election precincts, census tracts, and many other subdivisions of the county. If you have data sets that are based on those subdivisions (for example, vote totals or turnout percentages for precincts) then you can adapt the code I wrote (all of which is in the public domain) to create your own maps showing how that data varies across the county.

The bottom line is that the data is out there for the picking, as are the tools to make sense of it. You just need to spend some time learning how to use them or (if you don’t feel up to the task yourself) finding someone who can. Have fun!

Howard County government by the numbers

tl;dr: As we wait to hear more about Allan Kittleman’s HoCoStat proposal, you don’t have to wait to download lots of useful county-related data at

During his (ultimately successful) campaign for Howard County Executive, one of Allan Kittleman’s key proposals was to establish HoCoStat, a program to (in Kittleman’s words), “measure … response and process times for various government functions” to help “increase responsiveness, improve efficiency and heighten accountability”. Kittleman’s administration is in its early days, and nothing much has been heard yet about how and when HoCoStat might be implemented. (Even the original HoCoStat proposal has disappeared from Kittleman’s web site as it’s being redesigned, although the Internet archive has a copy.)

But don’t despair! While we’re waiting for HoCoStat to make an appearance there’s other Howard County data-related resources we can explore. In particular, the site has a good and growing collection of county-related datasets, many of them tied to county maps—no surprise, since the site is maintained by the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Division. Part of what makes the site great is that it is not just presenting predefined maps and PDF documents, but also provides the raw data used to create those maps.

For example, suppose you’re interested in building permits issued in Howard County. At the simplest level you can view an interactive map showing the locations for all such permits; you can click on the icons corresponding to the issued permits and see the exact address, date when the permit was issued, and other information.

But let’s suppose you want to do more in-depth analysis of permits issued: For example, which areas are seeing the most residential or commercial permits issued? Or, what is the trend for permits issued over time? The site also lets you download the raw data behind the map in a variety of formats, for example in CSV format for use with Excel spreadsheets or statistical software like R, KML format for use with Google Maps and Google Earth, and several others. Armed with the relevant data files you can create your own maps and do your own analysis, including combining the Howard County data with data from other sources like U.S. Census data.

All in all the site—which is still evolving—is a model for how Howard County government can make useful data available to the Howard County individual and corporate taxpayers who are ultimately paying for county services. It would be great to see this strategy extended to HoCoStat as well. For example, when promoting the HoCoStat proposal Allan Kittleman pointed to (among others) Montgomery County’s CountyStat site as a model to emulate. While CountyStat is very nice, it has the disadvantage that you can’t see the raw data behind the performance indicators.

For example, CountyStat has some summary statistics relating to issuance of building permits: average number of days to issue a residential permit, commercial permits for new construction, or other commercial permits. But there’s a lot more one might want to know: For example, what’s the variability in the time to issue permits? Are there some permits that for whatever reason took a really long time to issue? How does the time to issue permits vary across the county? Are there particular areas that (for whatever reason) are experiencing greater or lesser delays in getting permits issued? Having the raw data behind the indicators would permit (no pun intended) interested parties to answer these questions, from commercial developers doing large-scale projects down to a small contractor building a single home.

As I wrote in my previous post on Howard County government data initiatives, providing unfettered access to raw data (subject to reasonable concerns relating to individual privacy and corporate confidentiality) is key to making government data useful: It allows the private and civic sectors to exercise their own creativity in using that data, rather than trying to have government anticipate every possible use for it, and also lets the private and civic sectors hold government accountable by enabling them to do their own independent analyses of government data. It’s great to see what Howard County government (and the GIS Division in particular) has been and is doing to make useful data generally available. I hope that as the Kittleman administration gets down to work and the HoCoStat program is implemented that that spirit of openness and commitment to serve citizens through government data continues.