In our open data usage series, we’ve walked through the question what is open data and looked at some example open data sets. To get a better sense of the many possibilities for open data usage, we dived a bit deeper into open data and real estate. Now we’ll turn our focus to urban planning and the open data initiative. Cities, advocacy groups, and nonprofits are already putting public data sets to clever use. Read on as we explore innovations that save us from trash nightmares and grumpy, dying buses.

Urban Planning The Open Data Initiative

Boston’s Trash Horrors

How can open data usage help stop a trash takeover? Boston’s Trash City project looked closely at big trash piles, like those that we all know we’ve added to on moving day. But moving day in Boston is pretty specific: the city’s 160,000 college students pretty much all move at the same time at the end of August.

The project uses data from Boston’s overall open data initiative, Analyze Boston. Specifically, the project used data on “code enforcement violations311 service requests, and crime reports”. The goal: make smarter trash pickup decisions so that city dwellers don’t have to drown in garbage.

By tracking the violations, clean-up requests, and rodent issues, the city can make a better plan. From dumpster availability, to pickup frequency, to fine levels: open data means more informed decisions.

Save the Buses, New York!

Bus ridership in New York took a nosedive between 2002 and 2017, dropping 21%. People who need rides aren’t disappearing (the population rose 20%), and they aren’t taking the subway. So how can the city avoid even more gridlock and keep riders on buses instead of single passenger cars?

Enter the Bus Turnaround Coalition. This open data initiative is working with the city’s transit authorities to build smarter bus routes, better infrastructure to support busses, and even better bus loading plans. Its open data usage includes bus arrival times, speeds, ridership, and even loading times. In the end, the project has come up with a clear plan of how to improve the riding experience. The city has already agreed to implement the first piece. Soon, NYC bus riders will be able to board through any door, not just the front of the bus.

Chicago Potholes: We Know You Too Well

How well are the Chicago roads holding up? The fact that Chicago has a rouge pothole artist probably means not too well. But, the city is doing more work to get an overall view with its WindyGrid open data initiative.

The project is collecting all sorts of data to paint an ongoing and historical picture of every intersection. It combines the usual reporting sources, like 911 and 311, with new ones. Tweets with geographic tags are part of the mix too. The goal: keep better track of trouble as it is happening and use data to better predict needed changes and future repairs.

While the WindyGrid is for city employees, the city is making sure all of us can keep track too. Check out the new pothole map that charts pothole repairs over the past seven days, alongside 311 reports, to plan the best drive for your tires!



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