About Open Data KC

What is Open Data KC?

Open Data KC is the City's program and portal (website) to publish city data. The City launched the Open Data KC portal in 2013 and then adopted an Open Data Policy in 2014 that states the City's intent to make public data open and freely available to all in a machine-readable, open format that can be downloaded and utilized by anyone (pursuant to the City's terms of use).

What types of data are available? How I can I find data?

The City publishes a wide range of data related to City services and assets. Some datasets are updated on a frequent basis (daily) while others are updated annually or on an ad-hoc basis. You can search the data by browsing categories such as "Neighborhoods" or "Transportation". You can also search by name or keyword for specific datasets. 
Along with row-level tabular data, the city also publishes spatial files (for instance, the City's parcel data) that can be used for mapping or analysis. The data portal also contains filtered views of data and visualizations such as charts and maps based on datasets, many of which were created by users. 

What can I do with data when I find it?

The data portal has many tools for creating filters, roll-ups, charts, or maps so you can hone in on the data insights that interest you the most. If you create a free account (it takes less than a minute) you can save what you create, come back and modify it, and share it with others. Or, you can export the data and work with it in Excel or your platform of choice.
Below, you will find a "How to Guide" and several short videos where Kate Bender, Deputy Performance Officer with Data KC, explains the Open Data KC website and its features.
Are you a developer? Check out Socrata's documentation on using its APIs.

What if I need help understanding or working with a dataset?

Information on datasets, including descriptions and metadata, can often be found on the dataset's Primer page. If this page isn't fully populated, or you have additional questions, click the "Contact Dataset Owner" button on the Primer page (under the "About tab" if you are looking at the dataset).
You can also always contact the team at DataKC that manages Open Data KC,  via email, phone, or Twitter.

How to Guide:
Open Data KC

Below you will find a series of short videos that explain key aspects of the Open Data KC website.
The Office of Citizen Engagement produces a monthly series of "Lunch and Learn" presentations to provide insight into tools the City makes available to the public. In the following videos, Kate Bender, Deputy Performance Officer with DataKC, takes you through many features of the Open Data KC website. 
Kate's presentation has been broken down into bite-sized, sequential segments, but that doesn't mean that you need to go through each video in order. Feel free to jump around and explore the videos that are most relevant and useful for you, or if you want the full experience, you can watch Kate's entire presentation here. We hope that these videos are helpful for you, and that you learn how to more effectively use the Open Data KC platform!

Welcome to Open Data KC! 

Let's get started! In this segment, Kate introduces the Open Data KC website. She provides some information about DataKC - the City department that manages Open Data KC - and background concerning the history of the City's open data policy. We believe open data represents a resource for the community and a method for promoting transparency and accountability.
Kate also gives us a rundown of the brand new homepage including highlighted datasets, the search function, and datasets by category!

How do we explore the Data Catalog?

In this short clip, Kate give us an example of how the data catalog can be used to find specific datasets. She shows us how to browse by category and sort and filter searches to narrow down our results.
We also view an example of a map made using data from the catalog that shows Land Bank and Homesteading Authority Properties in fair or good condition. The map was made in response to a recent request and showcases the utility of our open data platform!
Later on, Kate will introduce and explain the tools on the website that will allow you to create your own personalized visualizations from our library of publicly available data.

Introducing, Data Dashboards and more!

Our Open Data platform is fantastic, but there are some other amazing publicly available resources that we want to promote to our users. In this segment, Kate introduces the Data Dashboards section of the Open Data KC homepage.
The tiles in this section link to other important public datasets that are not hosted on this platform, but that may be of interest to you and our City. Check in on this section regularly for updates and relevant information!
Kate also shows us the "More Information" section where we can suggest a dataset, submit a Sunshine Request, and access the KCMO Parcel Viewer!

Time to dig in!

Now that Kate has given us an overview of the basics, we are all ready to enjoy the main course - or the meat and potatoes as Kate likes to call it - of our Open Data KC system. The real power of the data captured in our system is the ability to explore, visualize, and build narratives.
In this clip, Kate uses the City's 311 call center data to showcase a new feature of the website, stories. Stories are dedicated pages that can be created to highlight the most relevant information contained in a dataset. This feature allows us to dig in, find relevant trends, and begin using the data we capture in interesting and informative ways!
Existing stories pages present you with data visualizations created from an existing dataset. These visualizations reveal trends and insights in the data that we found relevant, and the best part is, you don't have to create them yourself! Each visualization on a story page is automatically updated as the underlying dataset updates. For example, the 311 Monthly Report story showcases multiple styles of charts, graphs, and geographic visualizations all created using the tools and data publicly available on the Open Data KC platform, and this story will update monthly as new 311 requests are recorded.
Some of the more interesting features include the ability to layer multiple data visualizations. For example, Kate shows us some charts where we can "drill down" from a main category to view sub-categories. We also get another look at an interactive map that allows us to filter the visualization by our specific area of interest. Finally, it is important to note that these data visualizations are dynamic, meaning that they are automatically updating on a regular basis as new data is added to the platform.
Feel free to come back here for a refresher from time to time on just how expansive and powerful this platform, and the data visualization tools it offers, can be!

What can we do with the raw datasets?

Stories are nice, but some of us want to do it ourselves! Maybe you have some familiarity with data already. Perhaps you are an amateur or professional data analyst. Whatever your skill level, the Open Data KC platform allows you to roll up your sleeves, dust off your keys, and jump right in to the process of transforming the datasets most relevant to you.
Kate takes us through locating a relevant and authoritative data set, and there are a couple of key factors to keep in mind. For instance:
  • How recently has the data set been updated?
    When we explore and analyze data, it is helpful to know if the information is updated regularly. Data that has been collected over the span of many years can be very interesting to analyze, but without up-to-date information there could be some context that we are missing. Luckily, we provide you with the most recent date that each item in our catalog was updated!
  • Is this dataset the most authoritative source for the information we want?
    This question can be a little more tricky to answer. First, we can relate back to the recentness of the dataset in question. Then, we can look at how many other users have been accessing the data. Chances are, the dataset with the greatest number of views and that is the most recently updated is going to be our best source.
  • What is the source of this data?
    Finally, we should always be considerate of where we are getting our information. We can be confident in knowing that the data located on the Open Data KC platform comes from reliable sources. It is either collected directly from City departments and agencies, or compiled by City employees from external reliable and credible sources. However, investigating the source of the data we are using is a crucial step for any data analyst.
Now that we have found the dataset we want to explore, Kate takes us through the Primer page. This page provides us with an in-depth overview of the data set. We can see where the data comes from, how recently it has been updated, information about what is in the dataset, a preview, and even some related content. There are also options to view the dataset as a data table, jump directly to creating visualizations, export in a variety of file formats, API information for developers, share data on social media, and more!
So, we have found our dataset and now we want to explore the raw data. Kate takes us through the traditional data table view and many of the features offered to manipulate the raw data. In addition, we can take a look at other views and visualizations that have been created by staff or residents. We can also engage in a discussion forum regarding the data set and find more information and context. 

Let's get visual!

This is the final segment of our How to Guide, so congratulations and thank you for taking the time to learn more about how to use our Open Data KC platform. This last section is a bit longer than the rest as Kate uses the platform's visualization features to show us examples of the different ways we can display datasets to develop our own understanding and a compelling narrative. 
We recommend returning to this video often for a refresher on the types of visualizations that you can make. It may also be useful to follow along yourself and practice using the visualization tools. You can access the same Dangerous Buildings List Kate is using and create a similar type of visualization or explore other interesting ways to display the data. There are no right or wrong answers in data visualization, and the more you experiment with a dataset, the more insights you are likely to uncover!
Finally, make sure that you sign-up for an account if you want to save your visualizations, custom data lenses, and other items.