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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Innovation and Technology (DOIT) in an ongoing effort to improve City services through data driven decision-making within government launched a comprehensive data directory – known as the Data Dictionary - that will allow the public unprecedented access to the data collected by the City’s departments and sister agencies into a singular easy navigable data platform. The Data Dictionary is the first of its kind in the country and is purposed to provide all possible information on the City's data capacity including education, health and human services, infrastructure and public works, public safety, and housing and property.
“An open and transparent administration makes it easier for residents to hold their government accountable, but it also serves as a platform for innovative tools that improve the lives of all residents,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Chicago’s vibrant technology and startup community will leverage this wealth of open, easy to navigate public data to create tools that will improve the quality of service for residents and greater public engagement in City government.”
Currently 177 databases are slated to be included in the Data Dictionary, and more may be added as they are built. As a massive metadata directory, the Data Dictionary will provide the public a convenient way to search and find relevant data through simple query.
The Data Dictionary builds on Mayor Emanuel’s vision for open government. In 2012, the Mayor and City Council passed an ordinance to further the creation of Data Dictionary and with the aid of $300,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and work by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago research center for the Department of Innovations and Technology, the Data Dictionary project was underway. Nine months later, the Mayor issued an Executive Order mandating that agencies regularly publish public data on the City’s data portal. Now, together with the City’s open data portal, the Data Dictionary represents progress made by the city towards one of the key goals outlined in the administration’s Chicago 2011 Transition Plan, to publicize and centralize city records and internal service operations.
“We are able to provide another level of transparency to the data the city collects and provide greater context on the data we do release on the data portal,” said Brenna Berman, Commissioner of the Department of Innovation and Technology.
In addition to ensuring an added level of transparency, the Data Dictionary serves as a resource for informed decision making, by consolidating and publicizing data, the Data Dictionary gives the general public a reliable and verifiable source from which to create and build decisions from. The consolidation of data into a centralized directory also assists City staff and improving overall efficiency and service to residents.
In conjunction with the launch of the Data Dictionary, the DOIT has released 13 data sets from various City departments.
Department of Family and Support Services:
Office of Budget and Management:
Chicago Board of Ethics:
Chicago Public Library:
The City of Chicago and DOIT have open source released this project and encourages any and all cities, states and public or private institutions to take advantage of this platform and to build from. Commissioner Berman and the DOIT are also strongly committed to working with civic technologists to improve the platform as innovation dictates. This has been released on the City’s GitHub, which can be found here.
Since Mayor Emanuel took office, the city has overhauled the City’s data portal, data.cityofchicago.org, which now hosts more than 400 datasets and has been viewed 2.5 million times. Notable datasets include “Current Employee Names, Salaries and Position Titles,” which publicly displays the salary for every employee of the City of Chicago, a searchable version of the City’s budget, and more than 5 million crime incident reports spanning ten years.
As a result of these and other efforts to improve transparency and accessibility of City data, Chicago received a national transparency award from the Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to government transparency, and the City of Chicago website received an A+ grade.