Berkeley’s open data portal leverages city’s legacy data

Berkeley’s open data portal leverages city’s legacy data

Berkeley, Calif., has officially launched its open data website,  an effort to make city information more accessible for citizens and to reduce the staff time devoted to extracting and formatting data.

Started last December as part of a pilot program, the site was officially launched in early August and includes datasets that range from 311 requests, crime incidents, business license information and the city's tree inventory to restaurant inspections, certified green businesses and utility consumption within city limits.

The information can be filtered, manipulated and downloaded in a range of formats to facilitate mapping, data visualizations and additional analysis. The site also includes tutorials on how to access and use the data.

The city’s IT department and staff members from all city departments worked with Socrata, which helped launched the White House’s open data site and has created almost 90 percent of open data portals in the United States public sector, Donna LaSala, the city’s outgoing director of information technology told Berkeley Side

According to LaSala, the hardest part of the effort was getting the city’s legacy data into a format that could be fed into the new platform.   “Getting those data extractions to update automatically: It’s a big effort,” she told the paper.

“I’m just really proud that we’ve gotten to the point where some of our legacy data can be presented in a way that’s useful,” LaSala said.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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