OpenDataVote – a cooperative effort between Azavea, Tech Impact, Technical.ly Media, Code for Philly, the City of Philadelphia and others – gives social service and advocacy groups a platform to nominate data sets that are not currently openly available but which they need in order to support their mission, and the public an opportunity to vote for the data sets they believe their government should release first.
How It All Started
In 2011, the OpenDataPhilly project team launched a public awareness campaign similar to OpenDataVote in order to encourage the City of Philadelphia to release more data sets that could potentially serve the nonprofit community.
The effort attracted more attention to community-driven open data advocacy in Philadelphia and many of the nominated data sets were released on OpenDataPhilly in the years since then. OpenDataVote was an effort to reprise this success as well as encourage engagement and use of open data by nonprofit organizations.
How OpenDataVote Works
1. Nomination: Nonprofit organizations nominate one or more existing data sets that would be useful to the organization, but aren’t currently available to the public.
2. Voting: The general public votes for either their favorite organization or the data set they want to see released.
3. Winners: Nonprofits are awarded prize money from OpenDataVote sponsors if their data nomination wins. Prizes were sponsored by the Knight Foundation and ReedTech, and we’re deeply grateful for their support.
4. Data Release: The Open Data team at the City will make an effort to publish the data sets that receive the most votes from the public.
OpenDataVote in Philadelphia was open to 501c(3) organizations that serve the Philadelphia region. Data set nominations were posted on a voting platform and the public – anyone in the world – was invited to vote.
The winning organizations for OpenDataVote in Philadelphia are:
1st Place, $4,000
MicroSociety, Donors to the Philadelphia School District
They plan to measure the impacts that nonprofit programs are having on the school district with this data.
2nd Place, $2,000
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, Public Housing and City-Subsidized Housing Program Beneficiaries
This organization plans to use the data to advocate for fair housing for the immigrant & English Language Learner (ELL) population in Philly.
3rd Place, $1,000
PHS, Street Rights-of-Way
PHS plans to use the data to drive planting decisions & planning to streamline the street tree approval and planting process for Tree Tenders and the city’s street tree office. This will support the Tree Tenders/Plant One Million street tree planting, a partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department.
Special Recognition, $1,000
Community Legal Services, Water Department Lead Service Lines
This group lead voting for the first weeks of the voting period. The Advisory Board decided to recognize this organization for their advocacy for open data for the benefit of the community.
The release of this data would facilitate counseling families by Community Legal Services regarding potential risk of lead exposure from water service lines and connecting families to resources to prevent potential lead exposure.
The Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation will coordinate with department heads of the agencies that maintain each of the winning nominated data sets. The City departments will determine how to best move forward for: how to access the data securely, extract it, get it into a shareable state, create a visualization for it, and automate the process for future iterations. The City cannot guarantee that releases will be feasible, and some of the nominated data sets were from the School Board and SEPTA, over which the City has little control, but Open Data team at the City is passionate about releasing open data that will be useful and are working to publish as much data as possible on OpenDataPhilly.
In both 2011 and 2017 we organized OpenDataVote in Philadelphia. We’re interested in working with other cities in the future and would love to get your feedback. If you would like to bring OpenDataVote to your city in 2018, please let us know.