Three Places Where Open Government Data is Making a Positive Impact

GovTech Data Stories States-Counties

March 02, 2017

Reading time: 5 min




How does the open data movement affect the governments, businesses, and citizens that adopt this philosophy? Here are three powerful stories from communities around the world that have embraced the concept of open government data and applied it in new and innovative ways.

From Paris to New York, open data can change how communities are governed. We've seen it happen. But how does the open data movement affect the governments, businesses, and citizens that adopt this philosophy? Could the practical effects of open government data spawn new technology and business innovation that extends beyond the doors of city hall?

Open data has been positively linked to transparency in government. Here are three powerful stories from communities around the world that have embraced the concept of open government data and applied it in new and innovative ways.

July 2015, New York City, United States

In the summer of 2015, the New York City Mayor's office was on a mission. They facilitated the collaboration between two key city departments: the Office of Data Analytics (MODA) and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). Together, they launched Open Data for All, an initiative designed to take government data and unlock it for public access.

This effort was a key task tied to a 2012 City Council bill requiring open access to government data. The city created a portal designed to capture, analyze and disseminate data. City residents could access the data through multiple channels including city agency websites and city apps that use APIs. Some of the data points collated and available included:

  • The New York Police Department released a significant amount of government data related to the volume of felonies committed in the city. The dataset offered viewers an interactive city map that showed major crime incidents at a glance, along with a searchable feature by time, location, and other categories.

  • The 311 Call Center, which is the primary point of contact for city services, announced the release of all government data on call center activity dating back to 2011. It should be noted that the 311-call center answered seven million inquiries in 2016 alone, which gives you a sense of how much data is available during this time span.

  • In May 2016, the city's $82 million budget was placed on the Open Data Portal. This was the first time in the city's history that this data was digitized. Taxpayers can easily see how their money is being utilized.

The city targeted three departments for this initial rollout: sanitation, correction, and housing preservation. By December 2016:

  • Traffic on the open data portal more than doubled.
  • There were more than five million hits - especially on the Department of Building's job application site.
  • More than 150 new datasets were created.
  • More than 100 datasets were automated.
  • There were over 2,000 user-created views on the portal dashboard, based on city datasets.

In a city the size of New York, communications between voters and elected officials can be challenging. Open Data for All serves as one way to improve the vital link between constituents and city leaders.

February 2015, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France


Government data
A Paris suburb used data visualization tools on their open data portal.


Raw government data is fine, concluded city officials in the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux. But to make it truly citizen-accessible it must be presented in a way that is understandable to everyone. This spurred the launch of, the city's open government data portal.

Opendatasoft partnered with Issy-les-Moulineaux to customize a data visualization platform that provided maps, graphs, tables, photo galleries, and more, allowing citizens to get the big picture view of some big data. Residents could download data in interactive charts on any device from wherever they had a digital connection.

The portal was used for several initiatives, including:

  • Creating calendars of events combining geographic location, schedules, and descriptions imported into the open data platform. Viewers see events on an interactive map that synchronizes with an online calendar.

  • Making financial reporting available to all in a simple format that is visually appealing. The open data portal offers a number of datasets that can be combined and generated in a graphical format that includes descriptive interpretations of what you're viewing. This approach makes even the most complicated data more accessible.

One year after the portals launched, 125 published datasets, 90 interactive maps, and 115 graphs have been generated. The value in improving the city's image with taxpayers cannot be discounted; clearly, financial transparency fosters constituent trust and a culture of accountability. The city manager called suggests this open data platform will grow in value as time progresses into a big data portal encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation that extends beyond the doors of city government.

2013, Durham, North Carolina, United States

Government data From restaurant inspection statistics to crimes data, Durham has opened their government data.


Durham is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. In 2013 city and country government joined forces to launch the Open Data Initiative. Opendatasoft provided the web portal, analytics and visualization tools that power dashboards, APIs and a data catalog fostering communication between constituents and government data. The portal shares an array of information including:

  • Restaurant inspections
  • Traffic and accident statistics
  • Crimes and larceny
  • Library use stats

The data has been key in telling the unique story of this growing community. It has fostered communication between residents and government by taking incomprehensible PDFs of batched data and turned it into visually appealing graphs, charts, and maps. The Open Data Initiative also collates data in one location, organized concisely. Residents no longer have to request information from the city, they can now view it with the touch of a button.

Coming to a City Near You - Open Government Data

Around the world, the push to open government data is fostering innovation in public and government collaboration. But placing the data on a website for everyone to access is just the first step; the data must be easy for even a layperson to understand.

Making data available and accessible fosters actionable insights for business while creating a refreshing environment of transparency in the government sector. The collaboration to release government data in an appealing, easily digestible format goes to the heart of Opendatasoft's mission of creating data visualization tools that bring governments and the people they govern together in a more powerful and effective partnership.

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