Code for Asheville’s February community night, on Valentine’s Day, was dedicated to love of open data—specifically, to our plan to push for an open data policy for Buncombe County government. In 2015, Code for Asheville members and supporters led the initiative to pass an open data policy for the City of Asheville, a policy that laid the groundwork for our more recent work around policing. Now it’s time for Buncombe County to do the same. 

There’s a lot of reasons for the County to get on board. After the corruption charges that have been in the news so often lately, implementing open data would be a low-cost way to begin building back community trust by nurturing a culture of transparency. It also saves staff hassle by reducing the amount of time needed to fulfill frequent records requests that could be automated, and it encourages civic engagement by making it possible for residents to directly interact with the data that matter to them.

So how do we make it happen? Former captains Scott Barnwell and Eric Jackson have been pulling the first components together since last fall, and last week we sat down to turn them into a project. After a planning discussion, we broke into groups to begin the work. Some of our members began collecting background research to help make our case, like the fact that several North Carolina counties already have open data portals. Others discussed the draft policy itself.

The next steps are to start meeting with county commissioners and staff whose support will be needed to pass the policy. Do you live in Buncombe County but outside Asheville? Please let us know! We have plenty of Asheville residents on the team, but the other district commissioners will care more about what their own constituents want. If you’re willing to meet in a small group with your county commissioner, we need your help. We’re also looking for people who can link us up with other organizations that could help us round up public support, later in the year.

If you’d like to get involved, please come to our next project night on February 28 or e-mail our project lead Patrick Conant at