CivicData.com is Accela’s open data portal. The site represents a new approach, one that emphasizes the core mission at Accela—to build bridges designed to connect citizens and government agencies—and we believe that it will change the game on how governments publish open data.
A New Direction for Open Data
As the open data movement matures, an increasing number of federal, state and local governments are formalizing their commitment to releasing data for external users by adopting open data policies and implementing open data portals.
As open data portals become more common, and as more and more data is released through these sites, two open data portals from across the vast expanse of the U.S. stand out for their embrace of a different approach—an approach that signals a new direction that the open data movement will take in the next few years.
OpenDataPhilly.org is the official open data portal for the City of Philadelphia and is used by City departments for data releases mandated under Executive Order 1-12. But the site was not built by the City (or by a firm hired by the City). OpenDataPhilly has its roots in the City’s open data community, which came together not only to build the site but also to populate it with data and surface new opportunities for releasing City data.
The site brings together data from a number of different producers—city government, non-profits, academic institutions and others—which makes all of the data in the site more valuable because it is commingled with related datasets from other sources that might also benefit users.
Similarly, OpenColorado brings together datasets from governments across the Centennial State—over 1,100 at current count. Datasets from cities and counties all over the state are commingled in an open data portal built on the world-class, open source CKAN platform. The site is also built around the idea that community involvement is a key ingredient to a successful open data portal. Anyone can go to the site and register a new account, and add new open datasets that will sit side by side with datasets from Colorado city and county governments.
Providing the members of the open data community with the ability to add their own data—to augment and complement the data added by governments—heralds a new direction in the open data movement.
Built on the Best Ideas
CivicData.com is built on the best ideas for how to deploy open data sites coming out of places like Philadelphia and Colorado. Like OpenColorado, it is built on the open source CKAN platform. It is free to use for governments and for civic hackers. Anyone can sign up for an account to begin adding new datasets.
CivicData.com leverages the CKAN DataStore Data API, which allows sophisticated querying of datasets—including joins across separate datasets. This is what makes the commingling of data from different sources so impactful. Civic hackers, researchers, academics and others may now quickly and easily search across the different datasets in CivicData.com and combine them in new and valuable ways.
No other open data portal in the country provides data users with the ability to search across as wide an array of government and non-government datasets as CivicData.com. It is this power to query across different datasets and mashup data in new and interesting ways that will drive the next generation of civic applications.
Accela makes CivicData.com available to governments and other users free of charge because it emphasizes our core mission: if we provide our customers with the means to partner with outside collaborators and innovators we can better ensure their success, and our own.
If you want to give CivicData.com a try, you can setup a new account in just a few minutes. Add new data to the site, query existing datasets and dream up new ways for governments to work smarter and more effectively.
Open Data: From Coast to Coast
Open Data Delivering on Its Promise to Bring Governments and Citizens Together
Guest Blog from Microsoft’s John Shewchuk: Accela and Microsoft Hackfest — Providing Access to Open Data, Online and Off-Grid
Democratize Your Data with CivicData.com