Philly Tech Week kicked off Monday with the debut of a new web site that promises to open the often obscure statistics of government and other aspects of civic life to all.
OpenDataPhilly.org is a new site developed by software firm Azavea. It promises to be a home for a diverse array of data sources, from city finance records to arts calendars to, perhaps, the locations of great food trucks. It’s a one-stop shop, according to Tamara Manik-Perelman, Azavea project manager.
“Centralizing everything in one place makes it easier for sort of your average citizen who’s engaged and motivated to get involved, but doesn’t necessarily have those skills to get the information that they need,” she said.
Azavea partnered with the Philadelphia Technology Office to gather the data for the site. Stuart Alter, Technology Office senior program manager, worked with Azavea on the project.
“You know, things that are public information but almost completely inaccessible right now, we want to put them out there as data sets,” said Alter. “Nothing private, nothing that goes over security lines, no Social Security numbers, but public data.”
Many of the data sets on the site are already available to a savvy user of search engines. What’s unique about the site, according to project manager Deb Boyer, is its catalog of data tools focused on Philadelphia. Take, she says, a website such as phillyspacefinder.com.
“Which lets you look for creative spaces to rent for auditions or performances or events,” said Boyer. “I mean, stuff like that that you might not be aware of … that is not going to come up if you do a Google search, but it’s out there and this lets you find it a little more easily.”
And if OpenDataPhilly doesn’t have what you’re looking for, the site contains a form to suggest new information that it should have.
WHYY is one of the organizations involved in creating the Open Data Philly website.