Down to Business – March 2015

Down to Business – March 2015


The city of Las Vegas recently achieved a national ranking of 4th for providing open data and transparency to its constituents by the Open Knowledge Foundation’s census of 76 municipalities. Additionally, the city of Las Vegas is one of only 35 cities in the United States identified by the Sunlight Foundation as having a published an Open Data Policy. Previously, the city was 19th.

To learn more about open data and its importance to you, here are five questions answered by Don Jacobson, Information Technologies Business Partner for the city of Las Vegas:

What is open data?

Data is any information that is processed and stored by a computer.  Data may be in the form of text documents, images, audio or video clips, software programs, etc.  Open data is any data that can be freely accessed and used and redistributed by anyone.

The term “open” with respect to knowledge means providing and promoting a common platform where anyone may participate, and where interaction between the participants is maximized.  Knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use and share it.  The same applies to data.

What are some examples of open data in use by the city?

The city has an open data portal: Residents can view maps like the one depicting boundaries of the city’s wards to determine which office represents the area where their residence or business is located.

Also on that portal, residents have access to the city’s “Open Checkbook” where they can search for every single expenditure by department or vendor or type and drill down to each individual transaction for details.

Why is open data important to citizens and businesses?

Government at every level generates and collects vast amounts of information.  By making this data publicly accessible, ordinary people are empowered to understand it and utilize it to improve the lives of everyone in the community.

Open data allows designers and developers to build web applications and smart phone apps that help us make well-informed decisions and be more productive.  When government makes its trove of data available in a useful format, it creates opportunities for citizens and businesses to make everything and everyone work together more efficiently.

How is the city working with other agencies and organizations to make open data more meaningful and relevant?

The city of Las Vegas and other local public entities have the capability of providing worthwhile data for everybody and government is at its best when its evolution keeps pace with its citizens’ evolving wants and needs.

Identifying the needs of the community—and more importantly understanding the context behind it—is key to change and that is happening through the valley today.

What is the future of open data?

The challenges facing the valley balancing growth with sustainability will only increase in frequency and complexity.  The city of Las Vegas will continue to forge public-private-people partnerships and offer up its data to encourage efforts to solve problems collaboratively.

The city of Las Vegas believes that cross-pollination between government, business and those with a desire for social good leads to innovative solutions to complex operational and social challenges.

Photo: Don Jacobson, Information Technologies Business Partner for the city of Las Vegas; Courtesy of city of Las Vegas

  • Dayvid Figler and Rae Lathrop

    DF: Downtown was great as a kid and it is even greater as an adult. I love all of downtown’s hidden gems, its vibrancy, history and sense of connection. Rae is relatively newer to Las Vegas, but just as passionate about downtown. Downtown lends itself to the shared experience, and as a couple we both love seeing this part of the city through each other's eyes. Photo: Lucky Wenzel


  • Rob Ponte

    Some of the best nights I’ve experienced started out with no plan other than walking around to check out what’s going on. The great thing about having so many bars and restaurants downtown is the ability to move around if you’re not feeling the vibe in one place. There are plenty of options just outside the door. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Brandon Wiegand

    The downtown Las Vegas of today has much to attract residents - a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene, growing diversity of businesses, and major centers of art and culture. Plus, living downtown I am easily within walking or biking distance of it all. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Hank Gordon, Chairman of Laurich Properties

    It is always a pleasure to deal with the city of Las Vegas’ economic development department. The staff is really interested in helping create a positive business environment to work with.

  • Jonathan Jenkins, Founder & CEO of OrderWithMe

    As our company continues its rapid growth, we quickly realized the need to set up a formal U.S. headquarters. We explored multiple cities and were about to make the move to San Francisco, and then we heard about the complete reinvention of downtown Las Vegas. Coming from China where things are booming and growing, we love that downtown Vegas now has a similar vibe of energy and change. Not only is there an exciting tech community here and much lower costs than the Bay Area, but we love the fact that almost every industry group brings their conventions to our front door once a year.

  • Andy Hsieh, Owner of Lux Delux

    We love the vibrancy and energy of Las Vegas, and downtown is at the heart of it all. That's why we've launched our mobile platform with a focus on downtown. This is an exciting time in Las Vegas history, where community, commerce and technology are all converging at once. Downtown is our city's hidden gem.

  • Ramesh Srinivasan, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of Partnerships of SocialWellth

    We chose to relocate from the suburbs to downtown for several reasons. Our brand image and that of downtown’s mesh perfectly. The new downtown Las Vegas reflects a more hip, startup, social media-style image. Additionally, downtown’s emerging technology corridor, anchored by Zappos, is an environment that enhances our ability to recruit the types of technical skill sets required for our continued growth and success.

  • Mark Brandenburg, President of Golden Gate

    I think downtown Las Vegas is a unique blend of intimacy and great energy. Plus, in contrast to The Strip, it’s so easy to walk around…The Golden Gate has been here for over 100 years and with all the changes going on downtown, it feels like a new era. It truly is a renaissance—the rebirth of a classic.

  • Roberto Mendoza, Co-owner of Banger Brewing

    The city has been great in helping us with the licensing and procedures necessary to start a business. There hasn't been a brewery built in the city of Las Vegas for probably 10 years. So for them it hasn't been a typical ‘cut and paste’ thing. We're something different. It was a team work process to get us opened – a lot of talk and listening on both sides. And now the city started opening up the doors for other breweries once we were up and running. Good news for us and good news for the future. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Alexandra Epstein, Executive Vice President of El Cortez Casino Hotel

    This downtown area… is emerging and where many events are happening.

  • Meghan Mossler, Owner of Stitch Factory

    The city and the department of economic development have been very helpful to us and all the other downtown business owners. It’s such a community here, and everyone asks you what you need. That kind of help launching a business is amazing and priceless.

  • Pamela Dylag, Co-owner of Velveteen Rabbit

    The city is so supportive of new businesses. Things are popping up constantly. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Marc Abelman, CFO & Co-owner of Inside Style

    Downtown is becoming very much in demand…there’s a limited supply. Run fast, don’t walk.

  • Sam Cherry, CEO of Cherry Development

    For a while, downtown was one of the only places in the valley you would see cranes when you drove around. It was nice that city government stepped up and the private sector married with the public sector to create amazing projects that filled the gap. That was very important for us.

  • Johnny Jimenez, Owner of Toy Shack of Las Vegas

    Our business is booming amid the foot traffic on Fremont Street, and we’ve started to see how tourists are falling in love with downtown as they discover it. In the past year, we’re increasingly hearing things like, ‘Wow, next time we’ll stay downtown instead of on The Strip,’ or ‘We’ve visited downtown many times, but this is the first year we’ve actually stayed in a downtown hotel.’ They like that there is more to do within a smaller walking radius.

  • Rich Worthington, President and CEO of The Molasky Group of Companies

    Historically, downtown Las Vegas has not been a top destination for many locals, but in recent years… that trend is reversing itself. Given all the recent openings and progress, there’s much to explore and experience downtown.