Here is everything we’ve written over the last few years.

Houston Maps and Data

Houston Maps and Data - October 2016

It's been a few months since I've posted a roundup of Houston-focused maps and data projects. There have been some really great stories while I've been gone. Here are some of my[...]
using open data we build to help houstonians find their civic club

Finding your Houston civic club

There are over 200 civic clubs in the City of Houston. They have fancy names, like Timbergrove Manor and University Oaks. Some of them even have websites. But what do[...]
harris county class b marijuana arrests overlay with median household income in houston

Mapping Low Level Marijuana Arrests

Back in February 2016, Texas Lyceum published the results of a survey that found fewer than 20% of Texans believe that low level marijuana offenses should be criminal. Currently, Texas law[...]
where barbershops are disappearing

Where Barbershops Are Disappearing

I read an excellent article on Gray Matters in the Houston Chronicle called Why Barbershops Are Disappearing. The article points out that, culturally speaking, the barbershop is more than just[...]
mapping Houston capital improvement projects CIP

Mapping Houston's Capital Improvement Projects By Location and Budget

Every year, the City of Houston goes through a capital planning process where they allocate about $8 billion over five years. I wanted to know where these projects are, and how[...]
Houston Maps and Data

Houston Maps and Data: May 2016

This is our monthly series Houston Maps and Data, where we provide a roundup of interesting Houston stories using maps and data that help us understand the region by the[...]

Text Mining the City of Houston Bright Ideas Program

Last year, we helped the City of Houston launch a cost-savings crowdsourcing program called Bright Ideas. I was reading through some of the responses, and I got curious about terminologies, priorities,[...]
Participatory Budgeting in Houston

Parks Contest Quietly Introduces Participatory Budgeting to Houston

Over at Sketch City, we've been working with various governments in the Houston area to introduce the idea of participatory budgeting. We'll post more about our findings in a few[...]
policy hackathons pop up in houston

Policy Hackathons Pop Up in Houston

There's a new spin on hackathons, and it doesn't involve technology. In the last month alone, Houston hosted two policy hackathons. They got people thinking creatively about our government and[...]
free tools for making maps

Making Maps Is Easy Using These Free Tools

Making maps is a great way to visualize data. Building them is easier than ever. In the past, you had to have enterprise software licenses and a lot of GIS[...]
Houston Maps and Data

Houston Maps and Data: April 2016

Each month, we round up all the interesting stories told with data that help us understand the Houston region. Houston Public Housing Debate Rages A proposed public housing project at the edge of a fancy Houston[...]
Houston Maps and Data

Houston Maps and Data: March 2016

This month, we're looking at three Super Tuesday primary maps of voter turnout and one fascinating map charting the racial change of Houston's neighborhoods since 1970. The Texas primaries took place[...]
Houston Maps and Data

Houston Maps and Data: February 2016

This is the second edition of Houston maps and data. This month, we saw Mayor Turner's first major initiative take the form of an interdepartmental task force and a new[...]
Houston City Council Records Scraper Open Challenge Winner

Houston Open Challenge Winner: Council Records Scraper

This is the second post in a three part series profiling the winners of the recent City of Houston Open Challenge. You can read the first post here. Rakshak Talwar and[...]
Houston Maps and Data

Houston Maps and Data: January 2016

Here are some interesting recent stories about maps and data in the Houston area. I hope to make this a monthly roundup post covering areas of public interest, like crime,[...]

Houston Open Challenge Winner: Public Meeting Notifications

The City of Houston Open Challenge closed on December 1. It was a lightning-fast, 30 day challenge around three areas identified as "priorities" by Mayor Parker and Mayor Pro Tem[...]

Crowdsourcing Transportation Policy With MobilityHouston

MobilityHouston is a website that crowdsources transportation policy ideas from Houstonians. The goal is to help lawmakers create smarter, more comprehensive transportation policies. They do it with a specific focus on mobility and a broad[...]
open source

Renewing Our 10% Open Source Discount

Last year, we announced a 10% open source discount for 2015. We'll be honoring that open source discount throughout 2016 as well. We love open source software, and we seek opportunities[...]
Houston Metro Area, January 2015

Learn About the Houston Economy Through Spending Data

What does the Houston economy look like through the eyes of our credit and debit cards? A new study from the JP Morgan Chase Institute analyzed debit and credit card[...]
LCRA Defies the Texas Open Records Law

Bad Ideas: LCRA Defies the Texas Open Records Law

The Lower Colorado River Authority, the largest water and power supplier in Central Texas, has authoritatively said NO to releasing data backing their claim that a $255 million reservoir it is[...]
KPRC Debate with the League of Women Voters

Houston Mayoral Debate Takeaways

Last night, I attended the KPRC Houston mayoral debate between Bill King and Sylvester Turner. This has been a long, grueling campaign season, and it comes to an end next week.[...]
Green Chats Conversation With Jen Powis

Jen Powis on Houston's Environmental Potential

I sat down with Jen Powis of the Powis Firm to discuss the environmental ecosystem (pun intended) of Houston and increased discussion around urban green space, air quality, and why the heck[...]
Plan Houston Logo

Blueprint Houston Mayoral Forum Takeaways

At 9a on a Saturday morning, January Advisors collectively yawned and rolled over to the Blueprint Houston Mayoral Forum at Houston Community College. The topic of the day was the[...]
Open Data in China

New Research on Open Data in China

I received a note today from my friend Feng Gao (高丰) letting me know about a research piece on open data in China that was just published (here's the social media posting). It's[...]
City of Houston Controller Debate About Technology

Recap of the Houston Controller Forum About Technology

This morning was the first debate of its kind, anywhere in the US. The six candidates for Houston City Controller gathered at the Houston Technology Center to discuss... technology. The City[...]
California Water Conservation Campaigns

Top 5 Hackathon Projects for the Environment

Hackathons are a great way to address environmental concerns. Here are my five favorite examples of environmental hackathon projects: Triple Active Transport: MIT's first Clean Earth Hackathon brought teams together specifically to target[...]
Urban Tree Canopy Map

2015's Best Environmental Visualizations

There's only 3 months left in 2015 and it's been a doozy in the environmental world to say the least. Climate treaties, continued droughts, unprecedented flooding, and technology advances in solar power and water[...]
Startup Spaceport Happy Hour

Recap of the Startup Spaceport Happy Hour

A few months ago, Councilmember Ed Gonzalez asked a great question: what if we could bring the people working on the Ellington Spaceport together with the Houston startup community? I was honored[...]
Financing Get Out the Vote Experiments

Over 700,000 Voters Missing in Houston Area

If you’ve looked into civic engagement in the City of Houston, you may already know that Houston has one of the lowest percentages of voter turnout in Texas. Over the[...]
Leading Cause of Impairment of Waterways

Infographic: What is Polluting America's Waters?

Did you know more than half of the country’s lakes and rivers are not meeting the Environmental Protection Agencywater quality standards? A major goal of the U.S. Clean Water Act is maintaining “designated uses”[...]
State of Texas Technology Strategic Plan Committee

Texas' State Strategic Plan on Technology - Preliminary Thoughts

I was honored and humbled this year to be nominated to the Advisory Board for the State of Texas' State Strategic Plan (SSP) on Technology. It was an interesting experience and[...]
Flood Planning Includes Green Space

Can Flood Planning Include Recreational Green Space?

In just under 24 hours on Memorial Day 2015, more than 8 inches of rain swamped Houston, Texas. The Memorial Day flooding was yet another chapter in Houston's long flood history.[...]
Supercomputers Visualize Real-time Global Weather Conditions

Supercomputers Visualizing Real-time Global Weather Conditions

A VERY cool open source visualization tool of real-time global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers is now available. The data is updated every three hours. Features of the tool include: ocean surface current estimates updated every[...]
Water Use and Sprinkler Metrics Map

Mapping Civic Sprinkler Metrics With GIS

Rarely are sprinkler systems researched to determine nuanced solutions for a widespread drought. But in Southern California, that is exactly what the Fontana Public Works Department is doing. I was skeptical at[...]
Open Data in the Middle East

Open Data in the Middle East

Glad to be joining the ranks of January Advisors' Bitsters. I'll be posting with international and domestic news on open data, process improvement, e-government, startups and innovation. First topic: Open Data[...]
Bayou Startup Showcase

Another Great Bayou Startup Showcase

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Bayou Startup Showcase. This collaboration between the University of Houston and Rice University mixes up their summer startup accelerator[...]
California Water Conservation Campaigns

California Water Conservation Campaigns: Do they work?

This week I've been traveling through Northern California. What started as a simple visit to see my sister ended up as an opportunity to learn about the massive California drought[...]
VOTE stencils like Blue Tiles

Ballots, Bao, and Brainstorming: My Summer with January Advisors

Less than 6 months ago I woke up and realized that although I had lived in Houston for nearly two years, I could count on one hand the number of[...]
Get out the VOTE stencils developed as a summer project

VOTE projects featured on Public Affairs, Public Access

Last month, I went on Public Affairs, Public Access to talk about our get out the vote projects. I was fortunate to sit down with Reda Hicks, Aimee Woodall, and[...]
California Conservation Campaign

Water Risk and Planning: Assessing Water Stress with the Water Risk Atlas

All together now. Water stress is growing worldwide. Over the past 10 years, water stress is more severe in China, South Asia, and the Western United States.  Study after study proves[...]
Green Houston

Green Nonprofits: Connecting Houstonians

There is no lack of environmental issues in Houston including floods, droughts and periods of poor air quality. Luckily, Houston has engaged citizens that build awareness and stimulate discussion about[...]
Superfund Site

Mapping Environmental Justice: EPA goes Spatial

If you have ever wondered where to find Houston's landfills, look no further than the new environmental justice web tool released by the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this[...]
Bayou Greenways 2020

Bayou Greenways 2020: Transforming Parks in Houston

The Houston Parks Board is embarking on an exciting capital project: Bayou Greenways 2020. It will significantly expand and enhance Houston’s parks system, creating a continuous network of 150 miles[...]
Memorial Park Drought

The Case for Open Water Data

We collect a lot of water data.  From utility districts to the USGS, there are all sorts of agencies spending millions of dollars to collect information on streamflow, groundwater, subsidence,[...]
Mini Mural Traffic Signal Box

Houston Mini Murals - From Idea to Execution in Five Months

The Houston mural arts program is a work in progress. This is the story about how it got off the ground. Even though Elia and Noah are at the very[...]
State of Texas Technology Strategic Plan Committee

Inside the State of Texas Technology Strategic Plan

Last week, I participated in the kickoff session for the State of Texas Technology Strategic Plan. We're pretty familiar with government planning, and this was a great way to learn[...]
City of Houston Hackathon Poster 2015

Houston Hackathon Returns For Round 3

We're very excited to announce the return of the Houston Hackathon on May 16-17, 2015. For 24 hours at the Houston Technology Center, over 200 people will collaborate on projects[...]
Houston City With No Limits

Attracting Talent to the City With No Limits: Q&A with Jon Nordby of the Greater Houston Partnership

I sat down with Jon Nordby, the new director of Talent Attraction and Marketing for the Greater Houston Partnership. They are about to start on a new phase of the[...]
Plan Houston

A Look Inside

We just launched the website for the City of Houston General Plan. This is the first general plan in the City's history, and we're really excited to be a part[...]
January Advisors logo

Our 10% Open Source Discount

Throughout 2015, we're offering a 10% discount on any project where the client lets us open source the code. What do we mean by open source? Technically, "open source" means that the[...]
Ben Lopez - Startup Softball

Good luck, Ben!

This summer, we said goodbye to associate consultant Ben Lopez.  For the next two years, Ben will be attending UT Austin for his MBA. Ben joined January Advisors in October 2011[...]
East West Chats logo

China + USA Discussion About Open Data

Open data is a global concern. While most of our work has been concentrated in Texas, we have our eye on the international unfolding of data driven decision making, and[...]
Literacy Hack picture

Building a Community with a Mission Statement + Hackathon

In the months following the first Houston Hackathon, several organizations approached us.  They read about the city hackathon in the newspaper or they heard about it online, and they wanted one[...]
City of Houston Hackathon 2

Recap of the Second Annual Houston Hackathon

On May 31, over 150 people converged at the Houston Technology Center for the second annual City of Houston Open Innovation Hackathon. Over the course of 24 hours, they formed[...]
AMRI logo

My Summer with AMRI - Open Source Research

There were six of us huddled around a pasta press, cranking dough as if our dinner depended on it. We were guests at a penthouse apartment overlooking the Texas Medical[...]
Startup Weekend Maker Edition

Collaboration Season: 6 Weeks of Awesome Events in Houston

I'm really excited to be a part of something special here in Houston this spring. Over the last couple of years, our community has seen a rise in collaborative events[...]
Spotify Hacks Featured Image

My Favorite Spotify Hacks (so far)

I love Spotify. Since I joined in 2011, I've changed the way I share music with my friends, how I discover new artists, and even how I pay for music.[...]
City of Houston Writeathon Notebook Bar

The Story Behind the Houston Writeathon

Back in October, I was in San Francisco for the Code for America summit. It was an inspiring trip, with civic hackers from around the world converging to share stories[...]
Performance Improvement Portal screenshot

City of Houston Launches Performance Improvement Portal with Open Data

Today, Mayor Parker announced the launch of the Performance Improvement Portal, a City website that provides insight into how the City measures its departments and responds to citizen requests.  The[...]
Houston Startups Year in Review

Houston Startups: 2013 Year in Review

I've been working in the Houston startup community since 2009, and one thing is clear: we're growing like crazy. In a twelve-month period between 2011-2012, the City of Houston added[...]
Example Aquaponic Farm

Arduino-based Aquaponics Hold Promise

For the last ten years or so, I’ve read a lot about the politics of food. The industry is totally messed up, with systemic problems in production and distribution. Did[...]
City of Houston Hackathon Happy Hour

How the Houston Hackathon Happened

This is the story of how we planned and pulled off the first City of Houston Hackathon.  It's a story that has an ensemble cast filled with software developers, policy[...]
A Day in DC with Startups

A Day in DC: Startups and the State of the Union

I'm writing this blog on a rainy Monday afternoon in Houston, Texas. Tomorrow night, the President will deliver the 2013 State of the Union address. Over the course of an hour,[...]
Rice Village is Houston's Startup Neighborhood

Rice Village is Houston's Hidden Startup Neighborhood

Don't worry, Rice Village isn't like that bar without a sign. It's not exclusive, and it's not hiding from you. The neighborhood remains the same old destination for boutique shopping[...]
Building Startup Communities

Houston and Beyond: The Rise of Startup Communities

Over the last few years, entrepreneurs across the country have self-assembled into regional startup communities.  These communities provide a fabric of support that keeps entrepreneurs engaged, and resources to help[...]
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company Smoke on the Bayou

Learning About Craft Beer (One Pint at a Time)

There were a dozen of us, elbow to elbow around the dining room table. It was August, it was hot, and we were about to drink a few test batches[...]
Houston Main Street Fountains

7 Hours in Houston: My Day with the Jobs Council

Last week, I had the opportunity to accompany the Executive Director of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to three roundtable meetings in Houston, Texas. We met with over[...]