NYC Portal Redesign Makes Open Data History
By Bridget Quigg
You could hear the collective “ooooh” from the open data community when New York City released its redesigned open data portal yesterday. The Big Apple raised the bar for open government efforts around the world. Besides sharing 200 new datasets, what are some of the new, first-ever features NYC brought to life?
Keeping up with how people consume information in 2013, NYC has made their portal easy to browse on a mobile device.
Stories and Inspiration Come First
Rather than greeting site visitors with a list of available datasets, New York City offers them stories. The stories include links to dazzling visualizations of data, suggestions about what data to explore and why, and profiles of open data users such as the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).
This approach encourages visitors to get excited about possible applications of the data before they start digging around.
Instead of asking visitors to wade through all of NYC’s 1,100+ datasets at once, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) team reorganized their data sets and placed them into logical categories.
Once a reader is on the category page, they get to see some of the most popular datasets within that category featured at the top of the page. For example, there is the “Directory of Beaches” on the recreation category homepage and subway entrance map on the transportation page.
These featured datasets also have photos accompanying them, making it easier for visitors to sort through the information visually.
The Twitter Buzz
In case visitors are curious what people are saying about the site or doing with data, a featured Twitter feed in the right column near the top encourages citizens to get involved in the conversation and offer feedback.
The site has many other useful resources, including links to the City’s “Mayor’s Management Report,” a citywide report card, and information about application programming interfaces (APIs) and their use.
While NYC is the first Socrata customer to launch with this style of portal, we’re sure that more will follow, adding their own improvements and pioneering new features. This “great new facelift,” as it was described in the Twittersphere, showcases another step in the evolution of open data as an important service offered to anyone with an internet connection and a curious mind.