In our 2017 Open Data Plan, we identified five main priorities for the work we wished to accomplish this year. Priority number three is to “Increase the discoverability of our Open Data to the public”, and we are excited to announce the availability of a key deliverable that addresses that priority.
Today, we are updating our Open Data portal, http://data.seattle.gov, with a new design that will make it easier for our residents to interact with the many high value open datasets that our City Departments provide via our Open Data program.
One of the key drivers of this change was the fact that around 25% of the people accessing our open data portal did so from mobile devices, and our old design was not optimized for mobile experiences. Additionally, we have received ongoing feedback from our residents that the old site was hard to navigate, and hard for people to find what they were looking for. We are confident that this new design will greatly improve both of those experiences.
While this site update is a very visible sign of our progress, it is important to note that we have more work that we will be doing throughout 2017 to improve our open data discoverability even further. Today, we silo data by City Departments – in the coming months we plan to change this to align to the 19 services that the City currently describes on http://seattle.gov and point people to open data related to those services instead. We feel this is a better approach, both to point our residents to open data in ways they are already familiar with, and it helps our City Departments think about how future open dataset releases can be aligned towards Services and involve multi-departmental partnerships.
Additionally, we are working on projects that will help improve our usage of metadata, both within new datasets we will publish as well as updating existing datasets on our platform. By improving the contextual information we supply with our open datasets, we will make it easier for our residents to find the data they are looking for – either directly on our portal or via search engines such as Google. We will share more details on those projects later in 2017.