The private sector has finally been able to harness the onslaught of big data and has turned to learning how to analyze it to make actionable insights. Now, it's time for the public sector to do the same.

A new open-source mapping company called Mapbox is offering new mentorship programs with cities to help them take advantage of all the information at their fingertips.

Mapbox offers open-source mapping platforms, and is no stranger to turning complex data into visualizations cities can use, whether it’s mapping traffic fatalities in the U.S. or the conditions of streets in Washington, D.C., during last year’s East Coast blizzard. As part of the White House Smart Cities Initiative, which announced this week that it would make more than $80 million in tech investments this year, the company is rolling out Mapbox Cities, a new “mentorship” program that, for now, will give three cities the tools and support they need to solve some of their most pressing urban challenges. It issued a call for applications earlier this week, and responses have poured in from across the globe says Christina Franklin, who specializes in smart cities at Mapbox.

“It's very much an experimental approach to working with cities,” she says. “A lot of cities have open-data platforms but they don't really do something with the data. So we're trying to bridge that gap.”

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