Skip to Navigation

6 Governments Who Set Their Data Free

We're seeing exciting trends in governments making data more available  — and valuable — for the public. Whether on crime, education, or the environment, governments are putting more data on the web. And they're doing it in ways that allow people to build web applications on top of the data. 

By now, most folks in the web development and Gov 2.0 communities (and readers of this blog) have heard about the federal government's Data.gov initiative (and the winner of a certain Apps for America competition using these data sets). But local and state governments are also setting their data free. Here are a few examples:

  1. District of Columbia's Data Catalog: The District has opened up 405 data sets across multiple agencies. Users can, for example, subscribe to feeds of crime incidents or view a Google Map of construction projects completed in 2009.

  2. Vancouver's Open Data Catalogue: If you are a Vancouver resident or tourist, you can subscribe to an RSS feed of traffic advisories or review the 133 voting division boundaries. One suggestion, Vancouver: add a crime map. This would have come in handy a few years ago when my laptop was stolen from a parked car in Stanley Park...

  3. NYC Data Mine: The Big Apple offers users expansive sets of raw and geo data. Users can grab the last two years of restaurant inspection results and use mapping software to plot after-school programs. In January, the NYC BigApps competition will award a $20,000 cash prize and lunch with Mayor Bloomberg to the developers of the most creative applications using NYC data.

  4. Rhode Island's Open Data: Yet another site only a programmer could love, RI.gov's data library is as deep and wide as Newport Harbor, for which you can download tidal data. You can also view uplifting visualizations, such as this Google graph of the state's unemployment rate.

  5. MassDOT's Developers Page: The Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosted a competition for users to create useful applications and visualizations of the state's transportation data. The submissions included several compelling mobile apps. The two top submissions received one-year of free travel on the MBTA, in addition to recognition at the MassDOT Developers Conference.

  6. DataSF: A clearinghouse of over 100 machine-readable government data sets from a range of city departments, including Police, Public Works, and the Municipal Transportation Agency. Independent programmers have used the data to develop a range of innovative mashups an mobile apps, which the city lists in its App Showcase.

What are your favorite examples of government data applications and mashups? Tell us in the comments.