Project ranks cities on their zeal for open data

Wed, 2014-03-26 06:00 -- Doug Cooley

Promoters of “open data” in government have released the results of a project that ranks 36 U.S. cities based on the type and quality of their open data efforts.

Govtech.com reports that the project -- dubbed the U.S. Open Data Census -- reviewed and ranked cities in 17 data set categories, including information on crime, transit operations, construction permits, emergency management and GIS zoning. A primary goal of the review is to provide a listing that connects app makers to data sets commonly used by cities.

So which cities led the pack in using open data? Two northern California municipalities -- San Francisco and Sacramento -- garnered the highest scores in the census. But cities from across the country were represented in the top 20 spots. Visit the U.S. Open Data Census site for a complete listing of the cities by their open data scores.

Sponsored by the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation and Code for America, the ongoing project is looking to review and add more cities to the list in the coming months. Data set categories may also expand.

Elsewhere on the open data adoption front:

  • District of Columbia residents now have a website that should make it easier to search, browse and use District law, reports The Washington Post. The new DCdecoded.org site is part of the America Decoded project that has already put the legal codes of three states and four cities in a free and accessible format. The site provides programmers with the ability to interact with the website to build new applications.
  • Residents of Edmonton, capital of the Canadian province of Alberta, can look at the city’s books more closely under an initiative to add city operating budget data to the existing open data catalogue. Metro reports that the city had previously posted budget details online, but the new format will allow users to manipulate or reformat the data and enable programmers to create interactive apps or visualizations. Back in the U.S, the mayor of Los Angeles has also launched a city budget data site using the cloud-based OpenGov Platform, according to lamayor.org.
  • Finally, Chattanooga officials have put forth a draft resolution aiming to grant regular citizens open access to the information stored by city agencies. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the city IT department could soon publish a list of all city data sets, requiring city departments to specify whether each has been opened to the public and if not, why. The effort is part of the Code for America movement and the recent push by city officials to help the city solve its problems through technology.

The open data movement is a key smart city initiative. It strives to make data collected by cities useful and actionable by ensuring it is available in an online format that other computers can read and that is unencumbered by licensing restrictions. The value of open data is examined in detail in the Smart Cities Readiness Guide, which you can download for free (one-time registration is required).