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Posts Tagged ‘demographics’

Reviewing the US City Open Data Census Portal of Geospatial Content

The US City Open Data Census portal is “an ongoing, crowdsourced measure of the current state of access to a selected group of datasets in municipalities across the United States.”  The portal represents another example of a trend we have been noting in this blog for quite some time, a catalog that is a combination of crowdsourced and created by the authors.  In this case, “Any community member can contribute an assessment of these datasets in their municipality at any time. Census content will be peer-reviewed periodically by a volunteer team of Census librarians. [..]  The US City Open Data Census began as a partnership between Code for America, the Sunlight Foundation, and Open Knowledge International. It is maintained by Sunlight Foundation staff members, with technical support from Open Knowledge, local outreach by Code for America brigades, advising from the Open Government Data working group, and contributions from many members of the wider community.”

In the case of this site, don’t think “Census” in terms of demographic data gathered by statistical agencies, but rather, “census” as a catalog of geospatial data for municipalities.  The 18 themes currently cataloged for urban areas include crime, parcels, zoning, and others, but also those that are of interest but may be outside typically considered and sometimes a-spatial categories, such as lobbyist activity, web analytics, and spending.  At this time, the site’s focus is on the U.S. only.  Cities are ranked by the variety and amount of data in the catalog, and at the time of this writing, Las Vegas achieved top score. Testing this site, I was able to find quite a volume of data, in many formats that I could use, and in some formats I was not familiar with but was able to find out more about them.  If the data set I needed was not available, which occurred on more than one occasion, the site tells me who to contact.

If a data user wanted to obtain a set of data to compare across cities, this data set would save that data user quite a bit of time scouring each city’s GIS data site.  Therefore, even though the site’s ambitious list of themes are empty for many cities, and in many ways this project is just getting started, this resource may be valuable for your needs.  And in part because it is crowdsourced and curated, it could become even more valuable in the future.  Time will tell if it persists.  And, like any resource, be critical of its sources and use it if you deem that it will meet your needs.

 

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Visualizing data cataloged by the US City Open Data Census portal, ranked by “score”, with a lower number indicating that a greater volume and wider variety of data is available for that city.