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Office of Management & Finance

Bureau of Technology Services

Front Desk: 503-823-5198

BTS HelpDesk: 503-823-5199

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 450, Portland, OR 97204

Project Overview

Open Data Initiative



The Open Data Initiative is a regional effort to promote increased transparency and openness in government through the use of technology. Essential to this goal is achieving open data, open standards, and an application design contest in support of the Portland region's open data catalog.

The City of Portland is working with regional data owners such as Metro, Multnomah County, TriMet, Portland Public Schools and others to coordinate the release of high value datasets to the public domain. The objective is to make various sets of public data freely available in electronic form to allow the community to develop innovative applications that utilize this data in interesting and informative ways.

Once we've amassed a sufficient number of datasets, we will continue work with our community partners from both the private sector and academia to participate in the creation of a data portal website linked to the region's entire data catalog.

After we "go-live" with the data portal, we will announce an application design contest. Through this contest, we hope to entice the local software and creative development communities to participate in creating "apps" that mix and match (i.e., mashup) the various open datasets to produce unique and compelling applications that address civic issues and meet the needs of the community.

All resulting apps from the contest will be licensed under Open Source licensing, allowing free use, free distribution, and the right to modify or extend the application's purpose or capability. The type of apps or mashups we anticipate from the contest will vary by platform and visualization methods, including various iPhone apps, Google maps, widgets, websites, and/or integrations with Facebook or Twitter; each providing a unique social value proposition for the community to consider, access and use.




Stemming from the convergence of information, technology, and an increasingly sophisticated and well-informed public, there's a Renaissance of sorts afoot, one that is transforming the way in which governments interact with their citizens to address and solve real issues.

Fueled by the Internet and mass adoption of technology, an important trend has emerged in society, one whose primary features are collaboration and benefiting from the "wisdom of crowds". As we now know, much of the benefit and participatory landscape of the web is given its value not by a few people making large contributions, but by many many people making small contributions. It is in this spirit of innovation and community engagement that we seek to promote the use of open data and open standards.



High value datasets, once released to the public domain, will remain under the control and responsibility of the respective data owners, staged on publicly-accessible servers for access. Ongoing maintenance and continued population of even more datasets over time will also rest with the respective data owners.

A project advisory board, consisting of a number of community leaders, group organizers, open source developers, and other representatives from the software community has been convened to oversee the planning and execution of the project. Members of the advisory board were chosen based on specific resource needs of the project and a desire to include broad particpation from the local software community.



Open datasets will be soft launched between now and the beginning of the contest. Initial datasets are expected to include regional maps and boundaries, zoning, business and building permits, crime data, and many others. All data is expected to be available in a number of structured, machine-readable formats for programmatic access, including XLS, CVS, RSS, XML, SHP, KML, etc., depending on the type of data.

The design contest will be launched later this year, after the open datasets and data portal have been achieved. The exact format, duration, rules, and associated prize awards are still under planning by the City of Portland, its regional partners, and community advisors.



Project Sponsors – Mark Greinke, Chief Technology Officer & Sam Adams, Mayor of Portland
Project Managers – Rick Nixon, Bureau of Technology Services & Skip Newberry, Mayor's Office