10 datasets the city should release (and how you can help make it happen) - Technical.ly Philly


Feb. 12, 2015 8:29 am

10 datasets the city should release (and how you can help make it happen)

The city is making public a catalog of all its datasets. “There are hundreds of datasets in the city,” Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski told Technical.ly Philly in an exclusive interview. “This will help us answer the question, ‘Where do we begin?’”

Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski (right) and Mayor Michael Nutter at the opening of the city's Innovation Lab.

(Photo by Flickr user PhillyMDO, used under a Creative Commons license)

Which companies are being lured to Philadelphia? Is every official who’s supposed to be filling out financial disclosure statements doing so? And what’s even on those statements?

The answers lay in a handful of datasets.

Today, the City of Philadelphia is releasing the beginning of its open data inventory, which is meant to catalog every government dataset.

Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski first told us about his plans for an inventory last October. First up are the Commerce Department, the Office of Emergency Management, the Ethics Board and the City Commissioners Office. There are eight other departments currently in the pipeline, including the Fire Department and Licenses & Inspections, Wisniewski said.

See the city's 'data inventory'

The inventory, according to the city’s data team, is meant to show citizens what kind of datasets exist. They hope Philadelphians will examine the inventory and tell the city which datasets they want to see published and why. That will help prioritize data releases and also make the case to departments about why a certain dataset should be published. (In order to comment on a dataset, click “view.”)

But why not publish every dataset that exists?

It’s not that easy, said Wisniewski and Data Services Manager Stacey Mosley.

“There are hundreds of datasets in the city,” Wisniewski said. “We cannot get to all of those. This will help us answer the question, ‘Where do we begin?'”

In that spirit, we’ve suggested these ten datasets from the current inventory. Let us know what you want to see (and don’t forget to comment on the inventory itself).

  1. Financial Disclosure Statements [Ethics Board]
  2. Public Hearing Transcripts [Ethics Board]
  3. Minority Owned Business Registry [Commerce]
  4. Business Attraction & Retention Projects, or a list of companies that the department has worked on attracting to the city. [Commerce]
  5. KOZ Program Applications [Commerce]
  6. Selected Real Estate Development Projects — “Contains information about the address, company, square footage, project costs and project status for select developments over 50,000 sq ft or over 25 units.” [Commerce]
  7. Real Estate Development Committee Meeting Participants — “5-10 projects a year are presented in front of a committee of PECO, Streets, L&I, the State’s Environmental Department, etc. for assistance overcoming obstacles in development.” [Commerce]
  8. Accessibility of Polling Places [City Commissioners] — The hackers behind Unlock Philly and other accessibility-focused projects would also be interested in this.
  9. Committee Registration Statements [City Commissioners]
  10. Election Board Officials who worked on Election Day [City Commissioners] — A way to trace who’s getting paid on election day.


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