This is a very cool initiative of Chicago and the winner in terms of Open Data if you ask me.
We open source many of our projects because we feel the methodology and data will benefit other municipalities.
I think not only a large part of the US can learn from this experiment, but also here in the Netherlands. We have a whole skew from closed to open municipalities. The latter, which includes national data, can be found via http://opendatanederland.org/.
Why is Open Data so important? First of all, it is our data, public data. And second, if it is indeed our data wouldn’t it be cool to build some really useful applications around that data? Open Streetmaps is one such cool example, where you build maps partly from public data, but also from crowdsourced information.
Google Maps with Google Mapmaker might sound be same, but is in my opinion a time-bomb where Google is abusing crowdsourced data in order to license it very expensive to large companies. And didn’t Google Reader learn us what Google can do whenever they like it? Right, they can just shut down public/free Google Maps and keep on selling the data.