FAQs

Why was OpenDataPhilly created?

OpenDataPhilly seeks to improve access to data about Philadelphia, increase government transparency and accountability, drive and encourage innovative uses of the data, and inform citizens about our region's trends.

For several years, municipal governments have sought to improve government transparency by releasing data sets for public use. While the City of Philadelphia made much of its GIS data available nearly ten years ago via PASDA, the Pennsylvania state data clearinghouse, Philadelphia lacked its own a website to provide easy access to a variety of open data sources with a Philadelphia focus. OpenDataPhilly.org is the result of an effort to make data about Philadelphia more readily available.

OpenDataPhilly.org features data sets, applications, and APIs that provide access to useful and significant data on the Philadelphia region. The site enables users to quickly search through available data sets and access links where they can download the data. By increasing access to open data, OpenDataPhilly encourages better and more open government and a more engaged and knowledgeable citizenry.

What types of data are featured on OpenDataPhilly?

While many open data portals include only municipal government data, OpenDataPhilly also incorporates data from non-profits, universities, and commercial organizations in order to give a more complete picture of the data available on Philadelphia.

OpenDataPhilly also includes more than just downloadable data sets. It also includes data-centric web and mobile applications as well as developer-oriented APIs and other structured data feed. The goal is to create as rich and complete of an open data resource as possible.

What were the criteria for including a data set?

Data sets needed to meet several guidelines.

  • Specific to Philadelphia
  • Is available online
  • Is the best source available for the type of data
  • Provides or is based on structured, machine-readable data
  • Contributes to the public good and/or civic engagement
  • Is documented (pertains to downloadable data)
  • Is available on an ongoing basis from a reliable source

We'll continue to use this list of guidelines, and potentially add to it, when reviewing public submissions of data for inclusion in OpenDataPhilly.

What are people supposed to do with this data?

Data on its own is not really helpful. To be truly useful, data needs to be sorted, analyzed, and transformed in new applications, visualizations, and stories. Our hope is that OpenDataPhilly will serve as a portal for users to find data sets that inspire them to connect with the data and creatively imagine how it can be re-used. We'll be featuring some of the most engaging uses of the data in the Idea Gallery. We welcome public submissions via the Submit Data feature.

You can also engage with the data by rating and commenting on the data sets. These reviews can help guide users to the most effective data sets for their projects.

What are the restrictions on how I can use this data?

OpenDataPhilly features data that is available to the general public, usually at no cost. We encourage users to access this data and find ways to transform it into creative applications, projects, and visualizations. However, the creator of the original data set, application, or API retains any copyright or intellectual property restrictions they have placed on the data, application, or API. Please check with the originator of the data for questions regarding use and copyright, particularly if your use of the data will result in a for-profit endeavor or is used in a commercial manner.

How do I submit a new data set for inclusion on OpenDataPhilly?

We realize that we have probably missed some useful data sets. If you have a data set you'd like to include on OpenDataPhilly, click the "Submit Data" button in the left column and fill out the form to let us know about the data set, application, or API. Please include as much information as possible so that we can confirm that the data is open for public use and easily accessible.

Why isn't there data available on a certain topic (i.e. parking data, school rankings, locations of pretzel vendors and cupcake trucks, etc)?

While we tried to include data sets, applications, and APIs that cover a variety of topics, we were unable to locate some data. If you think that there should be data on a particular topic or feel that the site is missing a critical data set, you can suggest the data set via the "Nominate Data" button in the left column. On the Nominate Data page, you can also vote on other people's suggestions. While the OpenDataPhilly project cannot necessarily implement these suggestions, we hope they will guide efforts by government and other organizations to make new data sets available.

Who built and maintains OpenDataPhilly?

OpenDataPhilly was built by Azavea, a Philadelphia-based geographic information systems (GIS) software firm. In June 2012, the non-profit Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network (PPIIN) assumed responsibility for operating and enhancing it. Azavea's initial work on OpenDataPhilly was partially done pro bono and partially supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation to NPower PA. The catalog itself is obviously only part of the work. These data sets have been put together through countless hours invested over the course of many years by government staff, non-profit organizations, universities and private citizens. For a partial list of the many contributors, please visit the About page.

How do I contact you?

  • Got data to contribute? Fill out the form on the Submit Data page
  • Is data missing that you think should be available? Visit the Nominate Data page to add your suggestion or vote on other users' ideas
  • Have you used Philly data in useful and inspiring ways? Email it to info@opendataphilly.org
  • Other questions or ideas? Contact us at info@opendataphilly.org