Palo Alto Increasing City Transparency with Open Data Portal Design Refresh
Palo Alto Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental announced today that the City's popular open data portal—that can be accessed at http://data.cityofpaloalto.org—has a new look and design that makes it even simpler and quicker to find key City data. The improved portal includes a search box on the home screen to allow users to find data across the entire open data site, additional categories of data for easier identification, as well as a new "spotlight" feature to highlight particular datasets.
In 2012, the City of Palo Alto deployed its first open data portal to provide easy access to important City data. Since that time, the City has added a wide variety of useful data, including five years of financial information, utilities and permitting data, infrastructure issues, employee salaries, geospatial content, and years of rich library data. Along the way, the City has won awards for its efforts, including a national award from the Government Financial Officers Association. The City’s efforts around open data have also contributed to Palo Alto being named a leading Digital City in the U.S. for two years in a row.
The data is used by a wide number of stakeholders, both locally and globally. It has also been used in support of hackathons, meet-ups, and the Palo Alto Apps Challenge.
“Our open data portal has become a popular destination for learning about our City, and makes it very easy to access data that can take much longer through other channels,” said City Manager James Keene. “It’s also a tangible way that the City demonstrates transparency and accountability by making much of the same data used by our staff easily accessible to everyone.”
The open data platform currently contains 102 datasets with more added each month. Visitors to the site also have an opportunity to request new datasets that can be queued up for publishing. The site averages 730 visitors a month and 63 percent are first-time visitors.
“It’s great to see increasing sets of City data readily available to our community and a wide group of stakeholders,” said Reichental. “The updated design of our open data portal is part of a larger focus on open government and makes information even more accessible.”
The open data movement, still in its relative infancy, is a global phenomenon, with cities in the Bay Area, across the nation and around the world gradually opening up their vast repositories of data.
“In addition to the transparency and accountability that open data provides, the data can be used by third parties to build solutions for communities,” added Reichental. “As an example, Civic Insight uses City of Palo Alto permit data and presents it in a visually appealing manner.” To view this example, go here: http://paloalto.civicinsight.com/