Site Makes Push for Open Data from Cities

April 9, 2014

When your buyer clients ask about civic and neighborhood life, you like to have the information ready to hand them. But that's easier to accomplish in some cities than in others; sometimes you can't even be sure what data is accessible. A new database aims to simplify your search.

The U.S. City Open Data Census from the Open Knowledge Foundation organizes data from a variety of cities in 17 categories, letting you see at a glance what your municipality makes available so you can pass it along to your clients. An overview page provides color-coded bars to answer a variety of questions for each category in each city. All of the information on the overview page is linked, so that you can click on a group of bars to get more detail. You can click on a category name to compare the data that's available in the listed cities; clicking on the name of a city creates a more comprehensive view of the data that city publishes, including URLs to retrieve the data where it's available online. Categories tracked by the site include areas such as construction permits, crime report data, property deeds, and restaurant inspections.

For cities missing some or all of the data tracked by the census, the site provides resources so that interested parties can work with the cities to publish the data. While the site nominally lists nearly four dozen cities, about 20 are currently detailed by the census. Because the site is open-sourced, anyone with knowledge of the information their city provides — including REALTORS® — can contribute fresh information or update stale information using a how-to on the site's About page.

Source: "How Open Is Your City? Check This Census of Civic Data," (March 26, 2014) and US City Open Data Census

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