Philadelphia officials unveil public data and creative ways to use it

    There are more than 100 data sets currently on

    12:59 p.m. Green: The vision is to create a database moving forward of every form and every applicable field that the public can access. Digitizing historical archives may be impractical, but if an organization were to offer, the city would consider it. “Everything that’s a public record should be available online to the public.”

    12:57 p.m. “This is a very simple beginning,” says Philly Tech Week co-founder Chris Wink. Some data on the site is static, but the hope is to use technology to keep data updated.

    12:49 p.m. Perlman encourages citizens to write to their state, local and federal legislators to let them know Philadelphians support open government data.

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    12:47 p.m. Organizations can submit their own data based on Philadelphia information. Citizens can also nominate data they want to see on the site. A suggestion includes a database of Philadelphia food trucks.

    12:44 p.m. You can search’s data by category, like, for example, elections. You can review campaign finance records, election results and more, provided by sources from within and outside of the city. You can also search using keywords.

    12:42 p.m. Perlman: Open Data Philly combines components that have worked well in other cities. The success of the project, she says, is relient on how people use it.

    12:37 p.m. NewsWorks/WHYY News Director Chris Satullo is addressing the audience about how available data from the city will improve journalism. “For information to become knowledge, the information has to be shared with people other than those who generated it. Knowledge becomes the source of a continuing conversation.”

    12:32 p.m. Green is talking about neighborhoods being able to see zoning and license applications online as a way to empower residents with data. “We could be the first city in the country to be completely paperless.”

    12:30 p.m. “What we’re missing in the city is relevant data in a format available to the public,” says Councilman Bill Green, citing crime data as an example. “The power of tools like this is gonna be tremendous.”

    12:27 p.m. “This is the beginning of a “broad new world of innovation in the city,” says Paul Wright of Fusebox, a private social technology company.


    12:22 p.m. “This Open Data Philly project really is consistent with the ethos of the administration when to comes to transparency of the government,” Jeff Friedman of the City Office of Information Technology says. This is “civic fusion.”

    12:17 p.m. Open Data Philly isn’t a city project, Perlman says. Azavea has developed the project with data the City of Philadelphia has made available.

    12:15 p.m. Tamara Manik-Perlman of map- and graphic-building site Azavea: “The city was really way ahead of the curve almost 10 years ago when they released GIS data to the public.” But, until now, a single comprehensinve source of data did not exist, she says.

    Philadelphia wants to share its data with you. And the city’s tech junkies want to help you learn how to use it. Today at WHYY, Philly Tech Week gets underway with a presentation from We’ll be live-blogging the event to show you what information is out there and how you can use it. The event begins at noon.

    Disclosure: This author has personal and professional relationships with the Philly Tech Week founders.

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