Boston Open Data Challenge Will Highlight City's New Data Portal

After the competition concludes, participants are encouraged to share their code, results and any other outputs in a place where the public can access them.

by / April 10, 2017

Boston wants to highlight the increased potential of its overhauled open data portal, Analyze Boston, and is doing so by hosting an open data competition for technologists.  

Analyze Boston is a new and enhanced portal that aims to make the abundance of open data sets the city releases more relevant and accessible to everyday residents. The Analyze Boston Data Challenge asks participants to pick one of five tracks for the competition, each of which was selected because it could make life better for people in the city. The tracks are: reducing Boston’s carbon footprint; making open data local; learning more from BuildBPS data; identifying fire risks; and telling a story through data.

Participants can work alone or with a team, and once a track has been selected, the nature of the project is entirely up to those working on it. In fact, the wording for the competition announcement calls for creativity, and developers are able to use any software or platform. One of the few stipulations is that after the competition concludes on May 6, they are encouraged to share their code, results and any other outputs in a place where the public can access them.

Winners will receive yet-to-be-determined prizes.

Analyze Boston was launched as a beta site earlier this year to solicit feedback and spark discussion. The portal overhaul was another step in the city's ongoing open data commitment. In July 2015, Mayor Marty Walsh announced the Open and Protected Data Policy, which encourages city agencies to publish data sets, while also providing guidance for which information must be protected. In May 2016, Boston hired Andrew Therriault to be its first chief data officer.

Other data efforts in the city include CityScore, executive data dashboards to monitor city performance, a hazard information platform for firefighters called Building Intelligence System, and a data-sharing agreement with Waze that improves traffic flow on the streets.