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Open Data to Open Knowledge data platform is going BETA

February 28, 2017

Analytics Team

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Analytics Team

We're more broadly releasing the new platform as a preview (beta) today!

Several months ago, we announced that the City of Boston’s Open Data to Open Knowledge project would be moving to a new open data platform. After some extensive work, we’re happy to announce a broader release of a preview (“beta”) version of the website. This new platform, called Analyze Boston, will be accessible at data.boston.gov. We know there is still much to do with our content and functionality. But, we wanted to release this preview to spark conversation and get feedback before the site is officially released in Spring 2017.

Five key differences

After you visit data.boston.gov, you may notice five key differences between the City’s current open data portal and this beta platform. These differences are highlighted below to kick-start this blog post:

  1. One place. The City’s open datasets lived on two different websites, one site for maps and another site for all other types of data (often organized into spreadsheets). Now, with this new open data platform, all of this information lives in one place, making it easier to find what you are looking for.  
  2. Organized. We organized datasets into topic areas and grouped like data together. We've learned that datasets need to be organized and contextualized to promote accessibility. 
  3. Consistent licensing. The City’s datasets will no longer be released under a variety of licenses. Instead, with the help of Harvard Law School’s Cyber Clinic, we transitioned to a consistent public domain license. You'll be able to use our data however you want.  
  4. Fewer datasets available (at first). We are providing access to a smaller number of datasets in our beta. Why? We didn't want to carry over outdated or no longer maintained datasets from the current open data portal. For the remaining datasets, we introduced a “legacy portal” tag to let you know where they came from. Looking ahead, we'll focus on growing the new open data platform with high-quality, up-to-date datasets that have clear public value. This topic will be the subject of another blog post, so stay tuned.
  5. Open source and user friendly. This beta platform is powered by an open source data management system called CKAN. The platform is mobile friendly with enhanced navigation and search functionality. Most importantly, the platform is consistent with Boston.gov's brandmaking the experience similar to one you’ve already seen and grown used to. You can even share what you’ve created or learned from our open data with us (for example, a visualization, application, or data-driven story) so we can showcase your work on the platform.
Beta and beyond

With this beta release we’ve hit an important milestone, but we know there is still much to do. As we work toward a full launch in Spring 2017, we will continue to curate and publish high-quality datasets. During this interim period, the new platform will live alongside the City’s current data portal. We will maintain both sites until Summer 2017 to allow you to familiarize yourself with this new platform. At that time, we'll take the current data portal offline. So, if you have some time, take a look around and let us know the good, the bad, and even the ugly. If you have feedback, please fill out this simple form. You can also sign up for our mailing list to learn more about our work.

Feedback and mailing list

If you have feedback, let us know by filling out this simple form. You can also sign up for our mailing list to learn more about our work.