Ever wonder about the different ways you could use open data from Philadelphia’s City government? Maybe you want to start a business, or perhaps your nonprofit work focuses on a major social problem you’d like to help alleviate, or you just want transparency from your local government on how it spends taxpayer money through an open budget visualization.

Photo Caption: To bolster government transparency, the Open Budget Visualization allows the public to explore the different local funding sources and how they are spent by each City department.


The example above shows an application that the City built using open budget data shared by the Department of Finance – but what about the over 220 other datasets? And how are residents using open data in their day-to-day lives to make Philadelphia shine?

To answer that very question, the City’s Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT), through a new collaboration with Temple University’s Department of Journalism, welcomes Kamal Elliott, a recent journalism graduate.


Share Your Experience Using Open Data

The ODDT team hopes these interviews and visualizations make the potential ways to use open data more obvious and easier for residents. And for the City departments spending the time and energy to share data, finding out the impact can spark momentum to keep contributing data or inspire ideas of what else might be of use.

As a Communications Intern, Kamal will interview residents on how they’ve used open data to plan programs, grow their businesses, advance advocacy efforts, or build useful applications. He’ll also look into how government itself benefits from sharing open data. We’re looking for your stories, so if you’d like to tell us how you’ve used open data in a meaningful way, email Kamal.Elliott@phila.gov.

Kamal grew up in Overbrook and completed his undergraduate degree at Temple University last December. He gained experience finding stories throughout the city during his education. His previous internship was copy editing at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I’m excited to have the chance to learn more about the city and help promote transparency in government,” he said. “I think that open data is a tool that multimedia journalists should learn how to use – it can help visualize a complex story or you may even find a story hidden within the numbers.”

Jim MacMillan made the initial connection between the City and Temple that resulted in this internship. Jim is the Assistant Director for External Affairs at the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. As a long-time open data proponent and manager of OpenDataPhilly.org, he connected ODDT with Jillian Bauer, assistant professor of journalism in Temple’s Department of Journalism. Professor Bauer embeds the use of OpenDataPhilly.org into the curriculum for aspiring journalists.

“The Open Data Philly portal is an excellent resource for anyoneespecially budding journalistswith an interest in exploring, manipulating, and visualizing complex datasets. This collaboration presents a unique opportunity for both our department and ODDT to spread the word about open data, improve our understanding of how open data is being or could be used, and further promote the need for government transparency,”  said Bauer.


Keep in Touch!

There’s lots of ways to get involved. For information about City datasets and others, go to OpenDataPhilly.org. Visit this resources page for video tutorials and links to tools to help analyze data. Follow @PHLInnovation on Twitter to get alerts on future data releases, share how you plan to use open data with data@phila.gov, and join us on the public open data google forum.