Improving the US City Open Data Census

A screenshot of the US Cities Open Data Census.

The US City Open Data Census was launched on Open Data Day in 2014 as a partnership between the Sunlight Foundation and Code for America, working with tools built by Open Knowledge International to expand its mission tracking open data around the world.

This year, Sunlight will be taking on more responsibility for administering the census, which evaluates participating cities based on the publication of local government datasets. The census is crowdsourced using input from community volunteers who report on the public’s ability to access key datasets. In the two years since it was created, the census now includes more than 50 percent more cities and hosts a growing group of open data “librarians” — our term for the reviewers who monitor dataset accessibility in their cities.

At Sunlight, we’re thinking of ways to revise the census and make sure the census itself is up to date with current open data priorities, including making sure data is online, openly licensed and available in a digital and machine-readable format — all important aspects of Sunlight’s Open Data Policy Guidelines. Some of the things we’ll look at include revising the current list of datasets that go into the census, streamlining how data submissions are reviewed for each city, and better integrating the census with other Sunlight open data resources, as well as improving the code that goes into the census site.

If you’ve been using the US City Open Data Census and have ideas about how it could be improved, let us know! Simply send an email to the US City Open Data Census team, or fill out our feedback survey. If you’ve been reading this and think the census is a great idea, then check it out. Let us know if your city should be added to the census, or if you’d like to help promote open data in your city as one of the census’s open data librarians!