Compelling or interesting uses of municipal open data
November 18, 2011 2:05 PM   Subscribe

What are the most compelling or interesting uses of municipal open data?

I am looking for examples of visualizations, sites, apps or other uses that show the utility and potential of open data from municipal governments (other data sources can also work). Striking examples are good, though particularly interesting are connections between unexpected data sets, uses outside the usual (e.g. transit, maps), and things that are not just cool but somehow useful, either to the public or to the provider of the data.
posted by parudox to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Portland Maps pulls a phenomenal amount of public data and makes it quite accessible. The list of data sources includes assessor data, photos, old permits, ZIP code, census data, crime statistics, elevation, etc.

It's awesome to see in what year your house's furnace was installed, see an aerial photo from four years ago, or the history of nuisance complaints on the house down the way. They've even added garbage collection data for neighborhoods since the last time I looked...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heh, cultivating-open-geodata-in-the-real-world.
A review of three open data projects, from a developer's perspective: assembling a map of poetry posts, crowd-sourcing photos of Heritage Trees, and showcasing Portland's extensive collection of Public Art. Includes practical tips, such as using CouchDB to manage datastores that continue to evolve based on citizen input. Ideal for anyone hoping to get their community engaged in open data projects.
The O'reilly OSCON conference this year was on 'big data' and while most of it is databases and programming and geeky from hell, there were a few talks about open government data types of things. The Speaker Slides & Video. You'll have to browse through and look for government/open-data. There are things like Clear Congress (ugly list of links) scattered throughout the Oracle/Java brewhaha.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2011

There was a website (and smartphone app?) that showed where your bus is, while you wait for it, so you know if it's heavily delayed, or if you already missed it, etc.

I recall also being fascinated to find out which restaurants nearby had a history of health violations, and what those violations were.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:05 PM on November 18, 2011

DC's OCTO website is pretty good in terms of the range of information available--they have crime, 311, and a bunch of other stuff coded to the street address level. You could do a lot of different types of analysis with data from that site
posted by _cave at 3:42 PM on November 18, 2011

Not sure if it's exactly what you're looking for, but this article about my hometown and its partnership with IBM may interest you. As usual, the reader comments below are incredibly stupid and infuriating, but the project itself is very interesting.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:55 AM on November 19, 2011

Whoops! Let me try that again. Link.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:00 AM on November 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I've marked the Portland Maps answer as best since that's an example I ended up using in the presentation I was putting together. Some of the other ones were: real-time bike-share utilization, Mapnificent, the Transit Appliance, and this visualization of Toronto's budget.
posted by parudox at 7:44 PM on November 26, 2011

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