In Chicago, a lot of data has been released on the City's Data Portal, but I have no idea how much is left to be opened.

The strategy I've noticed governments seem to follow is to start with a department head that is convinced open data is good and work their way from department to department, liberating one dataset at a time. As more departments get on the open data bandwagon, the ones on the fence see the benefits and fall in line.

Are there other strategies? Has any city or municipality successfully opened all their available data? If so, when did they know they were done?

8 Answers 8


Great question! Cities follow many different paths, but some best practices are starting to emerge. Two particularly helpful guides/roadmaps are published by:

  1. Open Data Field Guide from Socrata
  2. Open Data Handbook from the Open Knowledge Foundation (available in multiple languages)

Both provide a nice how-to guide and future plans for cities and localities with open data.


In February of 2012, Chicago partnered with Chapin Hall to produce a catalog of the City's Data. In the initial agreement, Chapin Hall would deliver in eighteen months, so the data catalog might be done late this summer of 2013.

Once that catalog is in hand, it would be possible to build out a roadmap for the release of data.


It's certainly not exhaustive, but Philadelphia has started a calendar to keep track of their data releases, and what data is still left to be opened, and is publishing it as a Trello board.

  • This is great - thanks for sharing. I've heard plans to catalogue and present a system like this in Chicago, but this seems like a really easy way to bootstrap and get started.
    – Derek Eder
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 19:43

In NYC, we are thinking on how to improve the City's Road Map to a Digital City and therefore strengthening Local Law 11 of 2012, our open data law. Outside of those two efforts, we are debating how to not burden the city with an unfunded mandate to open ALL data, but only the data that seems most pressing. For us to accomplish this prioritization, we are looking at centralizing FOIL (freedom of information laws) requests to balance the need vs the want.

While I would love to see ALL data be open, I wonder if this is possible.


San Francisco's recent revision to their Open Data legislation sets mandates to achieve this goal. Specifically:

"Make reasonable efforts to make available all data sets under the Department's control, provided however, that such disclosure shall be consistent with the rules and standards promulgated by the CDO and adopted by COIT and with applicable law, including laws related to privacy;"

Full text available on Github: https://github.com/SFgov/San-Francisco-Open-Data-Legislation-2012/blob/master/OpenDataLegilsation2012Final


If you're looking for policy supporting the opening up of "ALL THE DATA" the current U.S. Federal Executive Order is currently the best example of that.

Also, for more Open Data Guidelines in general (on top of what Jeanne recommended) see CfA Commons' list and add to it!


The Sunlight Foundation has long advocated for the auditing and indexing of data sets (it becomes much more feasible to open everything up once you know what everything is). In this blog post comparing the new federal open data executive order to open data policy both internationally and locally we surveyed which cities were exploring this auditing and indexing process (including NYC's Dashboard, Philly's Trello list, the new San Francisco amended administrative code efforts and Chicago's efforts. You can see that blog post here. Also, (everyone) can contribute to the working spreadsheet of cities with audits and indexes here.


it's not exactly a roadmap, but we are developing an "Open Data Canvas" 0.1, inspired by the Business Model Canvas, to anticipate all the issues of an Open Data Process. This canvas can be used by every organisation, cities included. It's a first version, the objective is to have a kind of framework for every organisation which want to open some data (every feedbacks are very valuable).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.