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February 7, 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Releases First Annual Open Data Report

Report Outlines New Data Initiatives and Dataset Releases for 2014 and Provides a Progress Update on the City’s Open Data Policies

Mayor Emanuel today released the first Open Data Annual Report, which provides an update on the City’s open data policies, outlines several new initiatives and previews dataset releases for 2014. Since 2011, the number of datasets and user downloads of City data has more than doubled. This year, the City will launch additional efforts to use data to provide a platform for innovation and enhance existing services. 

“The City’s open data efforts are part of my commitment to an open, accountable administration that empowers residents to take part in government and enables developers to create innovative applications that improve the lives of Chicagoans,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The Open Data Annual Report reflects the strides the City has made in the interest of transparency and outlines our goals for making Chicago a national leader in civic and digital innovation in the next year.”

The Open Data Annual Report provides an update on the City’s data efforts and outlines several new initiatives for 2014: 

  1. The City to promote open data in the procurement process
  2. City and Cook County to increase coordination in the release of related datasets
  3. The release of new dataset including additional 311 calls, city-owned assets, business violations, specific public safety and hazard violations, and building code violations

Going forward as part of the procurement process, City contracts with vendors will contain provisions that promote open data by ensuring that potential data releases are identified in the bid documents and as a result will be incorporated in the contract with a selected vendor so that any such potential data may be released without undue delay during the performance of the contract. Prior to this policy change, data releases related to City contracts were worked out with vendors on a case-by-case basis after the contracts were signed. With this change in policy, the City will identify potential data releases before contracts are final and include provisions in completed agreements. 

The City and Cook County will also deepen their efforts to identify opportunities to coordinate in the release of related datasets. The City’s advanced analytics team will use text-analytic techniques to identify frequently-requested data to target for release on the open data portal. The City’s data portal is set to contain a new, public method to solicit suggestions for new datasets, and the City will create and maintain a new Open Data Status Blog to provide detailed feedback to portal users.

The City has targeted key datasets for release in 2014, including additional 311 calls, city-owned vehicles, business violations, specific public safety and hazard violations, and building code violations. Chicago currently discloses 311 data for the twelve most common service requests. In 2014 Chicago will release more 311 calls on the data portal, including fly dumping complaints, building violation complaints, and basement flooding complaints. The City will also release all business violations, public safety and hazard violations, and building code violations filed with the City’s Department of Administrative Hearings dating back to 2001. These datasets will include violations related to operating a business without a proper license, deceptive marketing practices, building safety and building exterior and interior maintenance violations, and de-identified data on violations for driving while using a mobile telephone and driving under the influence (DUI).

“This document lays out Mayor Emanuel's continued efforts to further the open data movement in Chicago and foster an open government,” said Commissioner Brenna Berman of the Department of Innovation and Technology. “Residents expect their governments to be responsive and agile, and through open data, Chicago has been able to serve residents in the 21st Century, whether it's exploring energy usage in your community, when to move your car for street sweeping, or where to get a flu shot.” 

In addition to establishing goals for 2014, the Open Data Report provides an update on the City’s ongoing data initiatives, and demonstrates the dramatic growth in the City’s data portal. Since Mayor Emanuel took office, the City has overhauled the City’s data portal – data.cityofchicago.org – resulting in substantial growth in content and traffic, including:

  • The number of datasets on the portal has nearly tripled. Today the portal contains 592 datasets compared to 271 datasets just two years ago. 
  • Total downloads of datasets from the portal have also nearly tripled. In December 2013, 6.5 terabytes of data were accessed on the portal. In May 2011, only 2.5 terabytes of data were accessed.

The total number of visits per month has increased by 5 million views. In May 2011, 29,513 pages were viewed on the dataset. Since then, the number of monthly visits has increased to 5.4 million visits in December 2013. Cumulatively, the City’s data portal has been viewed a total of 17.2 million times. 

By making data accessible, the City’s significant expansion of content and growth in traffic has facilitated the development of numerous innovative civic applications by independent developers, such as:

  • Chicago Works, which allows residents to make service requests to 311 and track issues as they are addressed
  • Wasmycartowed.com, which lets users look up their car by license plate, make, or model and find out if it has been towed or relocated
  • Adopt a Sidewalk, which allows users to adopt certain paths of sidewalk that they can maintain throughout the winter
  • SweepAround.us, which allows users to input their address and find out when their street will be swept next. It also provides the option to register for text, e-mail and calendar alerts.
  • ChicagoLobbyists.org, which provides users with information about lobbying in Chicago.

For a full list of City Data apps, visit: http://digital.cityofchicago.org/index.php/open-data-applications/

The first annual Open Data Report is a result of Mayor Emanuel’s 2012 Open Data Executive Order, which required that City agencies make reasonable efforts to publish public data sets under their control as well as update them on a regular basis. An integral component of the Executive Order is that the City releases an annual report detailing progress on ongoing data initiatives as well as establishing goals and targets for the upcoming year. Over the past year, an Open Data Advisory Group consisting of open data coordinators from each City agency worked to develop this report. 

As a result of these and other efforts by Mayor Emanuel to improve accessibility of City data, Chicago received a national transparency award from the Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to government transparency, and the City of Chicago website received an A+ grade.