About the U.S. City Open Data Census

The U.S. City Open Data Census is a crowdsourced measure of public access to public datasets in municipalities across the United States. The project is run collaboratively by the Sunlight Foundation and Open Knowledge International, with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers.

The U.S. City Open Data Census is a benchmarking tool that gives city staff and residents an understanding of what datasets are available in their city, and how their city compares to others across the country when it comes to open government data. The Census does not aim to create a comprehensive list of open datasets, nor does it aim to define what datasets are the most important to open, although we think the datasets assessed are among the more important ones.

The Census is crowdsourced and anyone can contribute information about their city's open data at any time. Census content is periodically reviewed for accuracy. Explore your city's open datasets and add the information on their openness to the Census. If your city does not make any of these datasets available online, we enthusiastically encourage you to contact your government and request that they be made public.

What datasets are included in the Census?

The following is a brief description of each dataset the U.S. City Open Data Census asks for information about. More detailed information about all of these datasets is available in our datasets explainer.

Assessing your city's open data

First look to see which of these datasets your city makes available online. Most often, these datasets are available on a city's open data website. If your city has such a website, some or all of these datasets should be published there. If your city does not have an open data website, try doing an Internet search for each of the datasets. OpenPrism is another tool that aggregates many open datasets.

If your city publishes all 19 of these datasets online, give your city's open data staff a high five! They are doing a great job making information available to the public, and you should make sure to let them know you noticed. If your city is missing some or all of these datasets, consider contacting your elected officials and government staff asking that the city make these datasets public.

Submit your city's information

Anyone may submit information about the availability (or lack thereof) of designated datasets in their city at any time. To begin, click the "+ Add" button in any field on the home page. Fill out the subsequent information as completely as possible, and double-check to make sure your answers are accurate.

Once you have submitted your information, your submission will become an official entry in the Census and displayed in the main table of the website.

If you want to make a new submission for a place and dataset where there's already an existing entry (like if you want to correct or update the existing entry), there are several ways to do that. If you're on the home page, click on that entry then click "Update." If you're on that place's page, find the row with the dataset in question, and click the pencil icon on the right edge of that row. Either way, you will be taken to a page where you can make a new submission.

How to add a new place

If you don't see your city on the list, a site administrator can help add it. Email the administration team at usopendatacensus@gmail.com (run by staff at the Sunlight Foundation) and we will add your city to the site.

Share your thoughts

We want to make sure the Census is easy to use and learn from. If you have ideas about how we can improve either of those things, email us.