10 Most Commonly Requested Datasets

November 15, 2018 6:03 am PST | Data as a Service

Police incident reports and parcel records are among the highest demanded types of public data, according to a new study by the Sunlight Foundation released this month.

The study, Understanding the Relationship Between the Twin Pillars of Access to Information, analyzed the most commonly requested types of information as well as how government agencies can decrease their volume of records requests by making the data publicly available.

The study found that government organizations need to publish high-interest datasets in order to reap the benefits of open data and cut records requests. Providing the public easy access, via dashboards and open data portals, to important public information can save time and money. 

The study spotlights the City of San Francisco’s new system for releasing police incident data, developed on the Socrata platform. That system is tasked with reducing lag time in releasing incident data from two weeks to one day, including data on homicide incidents. The dataset includes 2.2 million rows and has more than 44,000 downloads. 

The City of San Francisco Police Department Incident Report public dataset  users the ability to visualize information on maps. This map shows one week of crime reports starting January 1, 2018.
The City of San Francisco Police Department Incident Report public dataset users the ability to visualize information on maps. This map shows one week of crime reports starting January 1, 2018.

The study’s findings also reveal the importance of understanding demand at a granular level.

“Understanding who requesters are and what they need is necessary for city officials to use limited resources effectively and efficiently for better government transparency,” according to the study.

The Foundation’s analysis found that it’s not enough to know that data is of interest, governments need to know what kind of data people are requesting to accurately respond to demand.

Most Popular Public Data Requests 

  1. Police incident reports 
  2. Parcel records, permits, plans 
  3. Criminal record check
  4. Auto collision reports
  5. Uncategorized 
  6. Property liens
  7. Environmental assessment, hazardous materials 
  8. Purchasing records, contracts 
  9. City emails, social media posts 
  10. Crime photos and videos 
  11. Public works, utilities 
  12. Employee benefits, payroll 
  13. 911/law enforcement service calls 
  14. Building code violations 
  15. City government meeting notes 
  16. Witness statements 
  17. Human services cases 
  18. Complaints to cities 
  19. Checks and deposits 

Socrata Open Data and Citizen Engagement can deliver on transparency, engage constituents, and create vibrant data ecosystems through cloud-hosted dashboard. Interested in learning more? Get in touch.


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