Open Data Philly contest

Posted by on September 19, 2011

My name is Tim Wisniewski, and I’m helping to organize a new contest to promote civic engagement and government transparency, in partnership with The William Penn Foundation, NPower, Azavea, TechnicallyPhilly and the City of Philadelphia. I’m writing to offer your non-profit organization a say in the next data set the City of Philadelphia releases. Winning organizations will be given cash prizes.

For example, your organization could nominate:

L&I Violations, which would allow programmers to map recent violations
School Testing Scores and Graduation Rates
Recreation Dept’s activity list, which could be sorted by neighborhood

April marked the launch of, a catalog of open data sets, applications and APIs available from the City and other organizations in the region. Since the launch of OpenDataPhilly, Azavea has continued to add new data sets and applications. Since the project is not actually a municipal software effort, we have some leeway to apply pressure on the City to release additional data sets.

To this end, we are going to run a contest that we are calling the Open Data Race. The primary purpose of the contest is to encourage citizens and advocates to get involved in the process of open government and cultivating government transparency through the release of data. The contest will give cash prizes to three non-profit organizations that have nominated a data set for release by the City.

There will be several phases to the contest:

Phase 1: Nomination – now through the end of September – non-profit organizations nominate data sets
Phase 2: Voting – during October – the general public will be invited to vote for data sets (and the organization that nominated them) – at the conclusion of the contest, cash prizes will be given to the top three vote-winners
Phase 3: Lobby for Release – November to December – TechnicallyPhilly and others will work to promote the release of the data sets that win the voting in Phase 2.
Phase 4: Hack the Data – January to February – Azavea will work with partners to organize ‘Hack-a-thons’ that will invite programmers in the region to build applications that use the data released in Phase 3.

Nominate data at
Read the contest rules at

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