- The City of Philadelphia released a survey to gather input from the public and city employees to learn how people use its open data portal.
- The survey, which the Office of Innovation & Technology (OIT) launched last week, is designed to help the city understand whether more data should be released, how data should be presented and whether individuals have problems accessing existing data. City employees are also encouraged to give their feedback on how the city can assist them in sharing or analyzing data.
- Not only will the survey help the city get new ideas about how to use open data, but it will raise the profile of its data portal and "expand the minds of residents in how they can use data sets," Kistine Carolan, the city’s open data program manager, told Smart Cities Dive.
Philadelphia has been actively working to increase the use of technology across the city government, and make tech more accessible to the public. The city’s IT Strategic Plan, released in October, calls on the government to make technology experiences more meaningful for its citizens, and to use the city’s power to improve digital equity and grow the tech ecosystem. The government has also redistributed some of its tech workers to put user experience strategists in OIT.
The survey will help further those efforts around open data, Carolan said. The city already has about 250 data sets available through its OpenDataPhilly.org portal, including housing, crime and health data. The portal is developed by local geospatial software company Azavea.
The data has been picked up by real estate agents and professors, but the survey will help "understand how people are using more of this data than what we’ve heard anecdotally," she said.The survey could also result in more data being made available, or existing data being formatted differently to better serve users.
Cities are increasingly putting their vast stores of data in front of the public, informing citizens and making it easier for them to crunch it for their own uses. New York, for example, boasts that it has made public more than 600 data sets, which have been used for hackathons and other public competitions. And California recently launched a new Geoportal database, combining 1,200 publicly-available data sets from 25 state entities with geolocation tools that make it easier to analyze and share.