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What we learnt from Boundary hunting

- December 10, 2018 in #mysociety, Open Data Census, open data survey, open politics, politics

You may remember that in August this year, mySociety and Open Knowledge International launched a survey, looking for the sources of digital files that hold electoral boundaries… for every country in the world. Well, we are still looking! There is a good reason for this hunt: the files are integral for people who want to make online tools to help citizens contact their local politicians, who need to be able to match users to the right representative. From mySociety’s site TheyWorkForYou to Surfers against Sewage’s Plastic Free Parliament campaign, to Call your Rep in the US, all these tools required boundary data before they could be built.

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

We know that finding this data openly licensed is still a real challenge for many countries, which is of course why we launched the survey. We encourage people to continue to submit links to the survey, and we would love if people experienced in electoral boundary data, could help by reviewing submissions: if you are able to offer a few hours of help, please email The EveryBoundary survey FAQs tell you everything you need to know about what to look for when boundary hunting. But we also wanted to share some top tips that we have learnt through our own experiences. Do
  • Start the search by looking at authoritative sources first: electoral commissions, national mapping agencies, national statistics bodies, government data portals.
  • Look for data formats (.shp, .geojson, kml etc), and not just a PDF.
  • Ask around if you can’t find the data: if a map is published digitally, then the data behind it exists somewhere!
  • Confuse administrative boundaries with electoral boundaries — they can be the same, but they often aren’t (even when they share a name).
  • Assume boundaries stay the same — check for redistricting, and make sure your data is current.
If you get stuck
  • Electoral boundaries are normally defined in legislation; sometimes this takes the form of lists of the administrative subdivisions which make up the electoral districts. If you can get the boundaries for the subdivisions you can build up the electoral districts with this information.
  • Make FOI requests to get hold of the data.
  • If needed, escalate the matter. We have heard of groups writing to their representatives, explaining the need for the data . And don’t forget: building tools that strengthen democracy is a worthwhile cause.  
mySociety is asking people to share electoral boundary data as part of efforts to make information on every politician in the world freely available to all, and support the creation of a Democratic Commons.  Electoral boundary files are an essential part of the data infrastructure of a Democratic Commons. A directory of electoral boundary sources is a potential benefit to many people and organisations  — so let’s keep up the search!

Help us find the world’s electoral boundaries!

- August 7, 2018 in #mysociety, Open Data Census, open data survey, open politics, politics

mySociety and Open Knowledge International are looking for the digital files that hold electoral boundaries, for every country in the world — and you can help.  Yeah, we know — never let it be said we don’t know how to party. But seriously, there’s a very good reason for this request. When people make online tools to help citizens contact their local politicians, they need to be able to match users to the right representatives. So head on over to the Every Boundary survey and see how you can help — or read on for a bit more detail.

Image credit: Sam Poullain

Data for tools that empower citizens

If you’ve used mySociety’s sites TheyWorkForYou — or any of the other parliamentary monitoring sites we’ve helped others to run around the world — you’ll have seen this matching in action. Electoral boundary data is also integral in campaigning and political accountability,  from Surfers against Sewage’s ‘Plastic Free Parliament’ campaign, to Call your Rep in the US. These sites all work on the precept that while people may not know the names of all their representatives at every level — well, do you? — people do tend to know their own postcode or equivalent. Since postcodes fall within boundaries, once both those pieces of information are known, it’s simple to present the user with their correct constituency or representative. So the boundaries of electoral districts are an essential piece of the data needed for such online tools.  As part of mySociety’s commitment to the Democratic Commons project, we’d like to be able to provide a single place where anyone planning to run a politician-contacting site can find these boundary files easily.

And here’s why we need you

Electoral boundaries are the lines that demarcate where constituencies begin and end. In the old days, they’d have been painstakingly plotted on a paper map, possibly accessible to the common citizen only by appointment. These days, they tend to be available as digital files, available via the web. Big step forward, right? But, as with every other type of political data, the story is not quite so simple. There’s a great variety of organisations responsible for maintaining electoral boundary files across different countries, and as a result, there’s little standardisation in where and how they are published.

How you can help

We need the boundary files for 231 countries (or as we more accurately — but less intuitively — refer to them, ‘places’), and for each place we need the boundaries for constituencies at national, regional and city levels. So there’s plenty to collect. As we so often realise when running this sort of project, it’s far easier for many people to find a few files each than it would be for our small team to try to track them all down. And that, of course, is where you come in. Whether you’ve got knowledge of your own country’s boundary files and where to find them online, or you’re willing to spend a bit of time searching around, we’d be so grateful for your help. Fortunately, there’s a tool we can use to help collect these files — and we didn’t even have to make it ourselves! The Open Data Survey, first created by Open Knowledge International to assess and display just how much governmental information around the world is freely available as open data, has gone on to aid many projects as they collect data for their own campaigns and research. Now we’ve used this same tool to provide a place where you can let us know where to find that electoral boundary data we need. Start here  — and please feel free to get in touch if anything isn’t quite clear, or you have any general questions. You might want to check the FAQs first though! Thanks for your help — it will go on to improve citizen empowerment and politician accountability throughout the world. And that is not something everyone can say they’ve done.

U.S. City Open Data Census relaunched: here’s how you can get involved

- February 5, 2018 in Open Data, Open Data Census, USA

Since 2014, the U.S. City Open Data Census has tracked what datasets are open and available online in cities across the United States. In doing this, the Census is one of the nation’s most prominent (though not perfect) benchmarking tools for city staff and residents to understand what data their city makes available, how their city compares to others across the country, and what datasets their city should consider releasing to be among the nation’s leaders on transparent and accountable government. We mentioned back in November that changes were coming to the Census. Our partners at Open Knowledge International have been making changes to the technical platform that supports the U.S. City Open Data Census (and dozens of similar projects around the world). We’re excited to announce that the relaunched Census website is live and ready for your submissions. Check out the brand new U.S. City Open Data Census to see the new features and datasets, and to add information for your city. We took Open Knowledge International’s technical changes to the site as an opportunity to revisit which datasets were included on the Census. We added four new datasets and removed three. My colleague Greg Jordan-Detamore has a full explanation of the changes to datasets and the site platform. The full list of datasets included on the Census is now: Budget; Business Listings; Code Violations; Construction Permits; Crime Reports; Emergency Calls; Employee Salaries; Lobbyist Activity; Parcels; Police Use-of-Force; Procurement Contracts; Property Assessment; Property Transfers; Public Facilities; Restaurant Inspections; Service Requests; Spending; Traffic Crashes; Website Analytics; and Zoning. More information about what each of these include, as well as examples, are available in our datasets explainer.

A fresh assessment for cities’ open data

One of the Census’s hallmark features is that it assigns a score to each city based on the relative openness of their data. After a last call for submissions at the end of 2017, the cities that were leading the pack were:
Rank City name Total Score*
1 Austin, TX 1855
2 San Francisco, CA 1845
3 Las Vegas, NV 1830
4 New York, NY 1740
5 Los Angeles, CA 1710
6 Chicago, IL 1655
7 Philadelphia, PA 1595
8 Santa Monica, CA 1560
9 San Diego, CA 1550
10 Anchorage, AK 1430
*Cities’ total scores are as of December 31, 2017. Scores are imperfect; they’re a crowdsourced metric and dependent on volunteer contributions.
  As you’ll see on the new Census website, the score for every city in the nation has been reset to zero. For cities that were in the lead, or who had invested time and energy logging dataset information, we know this might be disappointing. The new Census platform required a break from the previous site, and the datasets and submissions changes were significant enough that carrying over scores would be an inaccurate comparison. If you want to see where your city previously stood, the archived version of the old Census is still available. The good news is that this means the field is wide open to showcase your city’s open data work. Whether your city is just starting its open data program or has been publishing open datasets for several years, now is a great time to benchmark what data is open in your city, and take an early lead nationwide. Anyone, in any city, is invited to contribute information to the Census. You do not have to be a city staff member or an open data expert to participate. We extend a particularly warm invitation to cities participating in What Works Cities, as well as cities that have passed an open data policy to participate. To these cities: you are already doing outstanding work on open data; this is a chance for you to show that good work to the rest of the country. In addition, we invite advocacy groups working on specific issues — like policing, public finances, or urban development — to add information about those categories across cities. The Census has the potential to show which cities are leading the way to publish data about important issues facing American communities. Submit information about your city’s data today. We plan to publish a midyear leaderboard in June looking at which cities are scoring highest at that point for 2018. We encourage you to get your city’s open datasets loaded on to the Census before then in order to be included. The U.S. Open Data Census is one of the best ways for cities to see how they compare to one another and to learn from cities that are leading the way. Helping local leaders aspire for ambitious goals, and learn from one another how to accomplish them is one of the great assets way that What Works Cities encourages. We’re looking forward to putting this new platform to use tracking open data across the country. Visit the new site to add information about your own city today.

The Open Data Survey: Measuring what matters to you

- November 21, 2017 in godi, Open Data Census, Open Data Index, open data survey

I once heard a brilliant government official say that in government you only measure what matters to you. This resonated with me back when I was a public servant and it makes even more sense now that I have participated over the last few years in the Global Open Data Index (GODI), one of Open Knowledge International (OKI)’s main projects. We developed GODI to address the question how much government information is published as open data. The index uses a league table that ranks countries from most to least open, based on their results for fifteen key datasets. In addition the survey compares the openness of key datasets worldwide, and lists which countries have, for example, the most open budgets, company registers or election data. But national open government data is only one aspect of the open data ecosystem. The Open Data Survey, the tool that powers GODI, allows to collect information on any aspect of open data.  Many organisations have repurposed the survey throughout the years to foreground information that these organisations find important, urgent or that help them reach their goals. In this blogpost I will highlight a few use cases of the Open Data Survey. In a follow-up post I will explain how you can start using the survey to measure what is important for you, whether with OKI hosting an instance for you or by deploying your own survey.

The Open Data Census

Our first example is the Open Data Census, a tool usually run by our local groups and chapters to understand how their local governments are performing in data publication. We have a record of about 40 different censuses assessing local and regional open data in many different countries. The census is the only tool to assess open data on a city level.

Example of a city-level census, comparing Argentinian cities with one another

Users of the Open Data Census include Open Knowledge Argentina, Open Knowledge Brazil and the Sunlight Foundation who assessed the openness of U.S. cities as part of its Open Cities programme. The Census results did not only highlight top performing cities in the United States, but also enabled Sunlight Foundation to do further policy analysis and understand why some cities perform better than others. Similar to the Global Open Data Index, the census measures the openness of around fifteen different datasets. But it is also fully customisable, allowing any organisation to assess various aspects of open data – from open data policies, through to publication of good quality data, or whether a local government engages with citizens to identify and publish the most relevant data.  

Code for America’s digital services survey

Code for America repurposed our Open Data Survey to assess the state of digital services in U.S. cities. As part of their Digital Front Door initiative, Code for America used a fork of the survey to assess if the government websites were “meeting Code for America’s criteria for good digital services, and prioritize opportunities for improvements”. With more than 40 cities assessed, this was probably one of the biggest alternative uses for the survey and a great example how to assess aspects such as design of websites (which is an important element for open data publication).

Assessing WASH resilience

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub, a 2015 School of Data fellow, used the survey to produce a public local information resource centred around Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) needs, to guide policy-making in the Philippines and advance disaster risk preparedness of local authorities. The website is currently a proof-of-concept, designed for information managers from government and CSOs who take care of data gathering and sharing during emergency situations. The website also visualises the evolution of key indicators related to water and sanitation, helping local authorities and information managers to make better-informed decisions.

Interface of the WASH Resilience survey

It uses two types of league tables, including a ranking of WASH data quality and availability of the 225 cities and provinces of the Philippines. The contents are now outdated but this example shows how the Open Data Survey can be repurposed to not only assess the availability of open data in a specific sector, but also to link this assessment to follow-up actions with government.

Measure what matters to you

To conclude, the Open Data Survey is a versatile tool and can be used to rank, compare, and highlight very different aspects of (open) data. I hope abovementioned use cases sparked your interest and ideas how to use the Open Data Survey. Stay tuned – in a follow-up blogpost we will explain how to customise the survey in order to make it fit your needs.  

Event Guide, 2015 Open Data Index

- September 6, 2015 in Global Open Data Index, Open Data, Open Data Census, Open Data Index, Open Knowledge, WG Open Government Data

Getting together at a public event can be a fun way to contribute to the 2015 Global Open Data Index. It can also be a great way to engage and organize people locally around open data. Here are some guidelines and tips for hosting an event in support of the 2015 Index and getting the most out of it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHosting an event around the Global Open Data Index is an excellent opportunity to spread the word about open data in your community and country, not to mention a chance to make a contribution to this year’s Index. Ideally, your event would focus broadly on open data themes, possibly even identifying the status of all 15 key datasets and completing the survey. Set a reasonable goal for yourself based on the audience you think you can attract. You may choose to not even make a submission at your event, but just discuss the state of open data in your country, that’s fine too. It may make sense to host an event focused around one or more of the datasets. For instance, if you can organize people around government spending issues, host a party focused on the budget, spending, and procurement tender datasets. If you can organize people around environmental issues, focus on the pollutant emissions and water quality datasets. Choose whichever path you wish, but it’s good to establish a focused agenda, a clear set of goals and outcomes for any event you plan. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe believe the datasets included in the survey represent a solid baseline of open data for any nation and any citizenry; you should be prepared to make this case to the participants at your events. You don’t have to have be an expert yourself, or even have topical experts on hand to discuss or contribute to the survey. Any group of interested and motivated citizens can contribute to a successful event. Meet people where they are at, and help them understand why this work is important in your community and country. It will set a good tone for your event by helping participants realize they are part of a global effort and that the outcomes of their work will be a valuable national asset. Ahmed Maawy, who hosted an event in Kenya around the 2014 Index, sums up the value of the Index with these key points that you can use to set the stage for your event:
  • It defines a benchmark to assess how healthy and helpful our open datasets are.
  • It allows us to make comparisons between different countries.
  • Allows us to asses what countries are doing right and what countries are doing wrong and to learn from each other.
  • Provides a standard framework that allows us to identify what we need to do or even how to implement or make use of open data in our countries and identify what we are strong at or what we are week at.

What to do at an Open Data Index event

It’s great to start your event with an open discussion so you can gauge the experience in the room and how much time you should spend educating and discussing introductory materials. You might not even get around to making a contribution, and that’s ok. Introducing the Index in anyway will put your group on the right path. If you’re hosting an event with mostly newcomers, it’s always a good idea to look to the Open Definition and the Open Data Handbook for inspiration and basic information.
  • If your group is more experienced, everything you need to contribute to the survey can be found in this year’s Index contribution tutorial.
  • If you’re actively contributing at an event, we recommend splitting into teams and assigning one or more datasets to each of the group and having them use the Tutorial as a guide. There can only be one submission per dataset, so be sure to not have teams working on the same task.
  • Pair more experienced people with less experienced people so teams can better rely on themselves to answer questions and solve problems.
More practical tips can be found at the 2015 Open Data Index Event Guide. Photo credits: Ahmed Maawy

Walkthrough: My experience building Australia’s Regional Open Data Census

- March 6, 2015 in australia, census, Featured Project, OKF Australia, Open Data Census, regional

Skærmbillede 2015-03-06 kl. 11.27.11 On International Open Data Day (21 Feb 2015) Australia’s Regional Open Data Census launched. This is the story of the trials and tribulations in launching the census.

Getting Started

Like many open data initiatives come to realise, after filling up a portal with lots of open data, there is a need for quality as well as quantity. I decided to tackle improving the quality of Australia’s open data as part of my Christmas holiday project. I decided to request a local open data census on 23 Dec (I’d finished my Christmas shopping a day early). While I was waiting for a reply, I read the documentation – it was well written and configuring a web site using Google Sheets seemed easy enough. The Open Knowledge Local Groups team contacted me early in the new year and introduced me to Pia Waugh and the team at Open Knowledge Australia. Pia helped propose the idea of the census to the leaders of Australia’s state and territory government open data initiatives. I was invited to pitch the census to them at a meeting on 19 Feb – Two days before International Open Data Day.

A plan was hatched

On 29 Jan I was informed by Open Knowledge that the census was ready to be configured. Could I be ready be launch in 25 days time? Configuring the census was easy. Fill in the blanks, a list of places, some words on the homepage, look at other census and re-use some FAQ, add a logo and some custom CSS. However, deciding on what data to assess brought me to a screaming halt.

Deciding on data

The Global census uses data based on the G8 key datasets definition. The Local census template datasets are focused on local government responsibilities. There was no guidance for countries with three levels of government. How could I get agreement on the datasets and launch in time for Open Data Day? I decided to make a Google Sheet with tabs for datasets required by the G8, Global Census, Local Census, Open Data Barometer, and Australia’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework. Based on these references I proposed 10 datasets to assess. An email was sent to the open data leaders asking them to collaborate on selecting the datasets.

GitHub is full of friends

When I encountered issues configuring the census, I turned to GitHub. Paul Walsh, one of the team on the OpenDataCensus repository on GitHub, was my guardian on GitHub – steering my issues to the right place, fixing Google Sheet security bugs, deleting a place I created called “Try it out” that I used for testing, and encouraging me to post user stories for new features. If you’re thinking about building your own census, get on GitHub and read what the team has planned and are busy fixing.

The meeting

I presented to the leaders of Australia’s state and territory open data leaders leaders on 19 Feb and they requested more time to add extra datasets to the census. We agreed to put a Beta label on the census and launch on Open Data Day.

Ready for lift off

The following day CIO Magazine emailed asking for, “a quick comment on International Open Data Day, how you see open data movement in Australia, and the importance of open data in helping the community”. I told them and they wrote about it. The Open Data Institute Queensland and Open Knowledge blogged and tweeted encouraging volunteers to add to the census on Open Data Day. I set up Gmail and Twitter accounts for the census and requested the census to be added to the big list of censuses.

Open Data Day

No support requests were received from volunteers submitting entries to the census (it is pretty easy). The Open Data Day projects included:
  • drafting a Contributor Guide.
  • creating a Google Sheet to allow people to collect census entries prior to entering them online.
  • Adding Google Analytics to the site.

What next?

We are looking forward to a few improvements including adding the map visualisation from the Global Open Data Index to our regional census. That’s why our Twitter account is @AuOpenDataIndex. If you’re thinking about creating your own Open Data Census then I can highly recommend the experience and there is great team ready to support you. Get in touch if you’d like to help with Australia’s Open Data Census. Stephen Gates lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He has written Open Data strategies and driven their implementation. He is actively involved with the Open Data Institute Queensland contributing to their response to Queensland’s proposed open data law and helping coordinate the localisation of ODI Open Data Certificates. Stephen is also helping organise GovHack 2015 in Brisbane. Australia’s Regional Open Data Census is his first project working with Open Knowledge.

Global Open Data Index 2014: Reviewing in progress

- November 6, 2014 in Open Data Census, Open Data Index

October was a very exciting month for us in the Index team. We spoke to so many of you about the Index, face to face or in the virtual world, and we got so much back from you. It was amazing for us to see how the community is pulling together not only with submissions, but also giving advice in the mailing list, translating tweets and tutorials and spreading the word of the Index around. Thank you so much for your contributions. Mor and Neal at AbreLATAM This is the first time that we have done regional sprints, starting from the Americas in early October in AbreLATAM/ConDatos, through to our community hangout with Europe and MENA, and finishing off with Asia, Africa and Pacific. On Thursday last week, we hosted a Hangout with Rufus, who spoke about the the Index, how it can be used and where it is headed. We were also very lucky to have Oscar Montiel from Mexico, who spoke with us how they use the Index to demand datasets from the government and how they are now implementing the local data index in cities around Mexico so they can promote data openness at the municipal level. We were also excited to host Oludotun Babayemi from Nigeria, who explained how Index that involves Nigeria can help them to promote awareness in government and civilians to open data issues. Skærmbillede 2014-10-30 kl. 15.10.04 Now that the sprints are over, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We are now reviewing all of the submissions. This year, we divided the editor role from 2014 into two roles known as ‘contributor’ and ‘reviewer’. This has been done so we can have a second pair of eyes to to ensure information is reliable and of excellent quality. Around the world people a team of reviewers are working on the submissions from the sprints. We are still looking for reviewers for South Africa, Bangladesh, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Philippines and Norway. You can apply to become one here. We are finalising the Index 2014 over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more updates. In the meantime, we are also collecting your stories about participating in the Index for 2014. If you would like to contribute to these regional blogs, please email We would love to hear from you and make sure your country is represented.

This Index is yours!

- October 9, 2014 in community, Open Data, Open Data Census, Open Data Index

How is your country doing with open data? You can make a difference in 5 easy steps to track 10 different datasets. Or, you can help us spread the word on how to contribute to the Open Data Index. This includes the very important translation of some key items into your local language. We’ll keep providing you week-by-week updates on the status of the community-driven project. We’ve got a demo and some shareable slides to help you on your Index path.

Priority country help wanted

The amazing community provided content for over 70 countries last year. This year we set the bar higher with a goal of 100 countries. If you added details for your country last year, please be sure to add any updates this year. Also, we need some help. Are you from one of these countries? Do you have someone in your network who could potentially help? Please do put them in touch with the index team – index at okfn dot org.
DATASETS WANTED: Armenia, Bolivia, Georgia, Guyana, Haiti, Kosovo, Moldova, Morocco, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Yemen.

Video: Demo and Tips for contributing to the Open Data Index

This is a 40 minute video with some details all about the Open Data Index, including a demo to show you how to add datasets.

Text: Tutorial on How to help build the Open Data Index

We would encourage you to download this, make changes (add country specific details), translate and share back. Please simply share on the Open Data Census Mailing List or Tweet us @okfn.
Thanks again for sharing widely!

Connect and Help Build the Global Open Data Index

- October 1, 2014 in community, Events, Open Data Census, Open Data Index

Earlier this week we announced that October is the Global Open Data Index. Already people have added details about open data in Argentina, Colombia, and Chile! You can see all the collaborative work here in our change tracker. Each of you can make a difference to hold governments accountable for open data commitments plus create an easy way for civic technologies to analyze the state of open data around the world, hopefully with some shiny new data viz. Our goal at Open Knowledge is to help you shape the story of Open Data. We are hosting a number of community activities this month to help you learn and connect with each other. Most of all, it is our hope that you can help spread the word in your local language. Open Data Index @ OkFest 14

Choose your own adventure for the Global Open Data Index

We’ve added a number of ways that you can get involved to the OKFN Wiki. But, here are some more ways to learn and share:
Community Sessions – Let’s Learn Together
Join the Open Knowledge Team and Open Data Index Mentors for a session all about the Global Open Data Index. It is our goal to show open data around the world. We need your help to add data from your region and reach new people to add details about their country. We will share some best practices on finding and adding open dataset content to the Open Data Index. And, we’ll answer questions about the use of the Index. There are timeslots to help people connect globally.
These will be recorded. But, we encourage you to join us on G+ /youtube and bring your ideas/questions. Stay tuned as we may add more online sessions.
Community Office Hours
Searching for datasets and using the Global Open Data Index tool is all the better with a little help from mentors and fellow community members. If you are a mentor, it would be great if you could join us on a Community Session or host some local office hours. Simply add your name and schedule here.
Mailing Lists and Twitter
The Open Data Index mailing list is the main communication channel for folks who have questions or want to get in touch: For twitter, keep an eye on updates via #openindex2014
Translation Help
What better way to help others get involved than to share in your own language. We could use your help. We have some folks translating content into Spanish. Other priority languages are Yours!, Arabic, Portuguese, French and Swahili. Here are some ways to help translate:
Learn on your own
We know that you have limited time to contribute. We’ve created some FAQs and tips to help you add datasets on your own time. I personally like to think of it as a data expedition to check the quality of open data in many countries. Happy hunting and gathering! Last year I had fun reviewing data from around the world. But, what matters is that you have local context to review the language and data for your country. Here’s a quick screenshot of how to contribute: Steps to track Open Data Thanks again for making Open Data Matter in your part of the world!
(Photo by Marieke Guy, cc by license (cropped))

Announcing the Local Open Data Census

- February 4, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Data Census

Let’s explore local open data around the world! Local data is often the most relevant to citizens on a daily basis – be it rubbish collection times, local tax rates or zoning information. However, at the moment it’s difficult to know which key local datasets are openly available and where. Now, you can help change that. We know there is huge variability in how much local data is available not just across countries but within countries, with some cities and municipalities making major open data efforts, while in others there’s little or no progress visible. If we can find out what open data is out there, we can encourage more cities to open up key information, helping businesses and citizens understand their cities and making life easier. We’ve created the Local Open Data Census to survey and compare the progress made by different cities and local areas in releasing Open Data. You can help by tracking down Open Data from a city or region where you live or that you’re interested in. All you need to do is register your interest and we’ll get your Local Open Data Census set up and ready to use.

Get in touch about surveying open data in your city or region »


Investigate your local open data on Open Data Day

Open Data Day is coming – it’s on 22 February 2014 and will involve Open Data events around the world where people can get involved with open data. If you’re organising an open data event, why not include a Census-a-thon to encourage people to track down and add information about their city? A Local Open Data Census for your city will help:
  • new people learn about open data by exploring what’s available and relevant to them;
  • you compare open data availability in your city with other cities in your country;
  • local government identify data that local people and businesses are interested in using;
  • and more data get opened up everywhere!
It’s really easy to contribute to an Open Data Census: there’s lots of documentation for them and a truly global community creating and using them. A City Census is a great way to get involved with open data for the first time, as the information is about things city residents really care about. Or if you’re more interested in regions, counties or states, you can take part a regional Census. (Some countries will have both regional and city Censuses, because of the way their local government information is organised.) Sign up now to ensure your city and country have a Local Open Data Census up and running before Open Data Day, and let’s see how much open data about open data we can create this month! We’ll have more tips on how to run a successful Census-a-thon coming soon.

Register your interest in a local census

The history behind the Local Open Data Census

In 2012 we started an Open Data Census to track the state of country-level open data around the world. The 2013 results published as the first ever Open Data Index last Autumn covered 700 datasets across 70 countries, and have already proved useful in driving open data release around the world. We’re looking forward to updating the Census for 2014 later this year. However, a lot of data that is most relevant to citizens’ everyday lives is at the local level. That’s why last year we ran a separate pilot, to measure release of open data at the local, city level – the City Open Data Census. We’ve learnt a lot from the experience and from the community who used the pilot, and we are now ready to offer a full Local Open Data Census to everyone, everywhere. You can find out more on the new Census “Meta” site »

Local partners

Census surveys of cities and regions will be run on a country-by-country basis, managed locally with local groups or other organisations. In the United States, we’re pleased to be collaborating with the Sunlight Foundation and Code for America. They are running a series of events for Open Data Day, CodeAcross (links here and here), including the city census for the US. [Sunlight Foundation] [Code for America]

And there’s more: Topical Open Data Censuses

We also know that people will want to run their own specific Open Data Censuses focused on particular topics or datasets. If you’ve been wondering about the openness of pollution data, legal information, public finances or any other topic, we can set up a special Census to survey the datasets you care about, on a national or regional scale. A Topical Census uses the platform built for the Open Data Census to run a similar, customised census, and publish the results in a simple and visually appealing way. The questionnaires, responses and results can be hosted by the Open Knowledge Foundation, so you don’t have to worry about the technical side. If you are interested in running a Topical Open Data Census, get in touch with the Census team. Note that we expect quite a bit of demand for local Censuses in the next few weeks. We will prioritise requests for Topical Censuses from groups who have more people ready to get involved, such as existing networks, working groups or interest groups around the topic, so please let us know a little about yourselves when you get in touch.