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Los Angeles Tops U.S. City Open Data Census

The city tops a list of national jurisdictions that lead the nation when it comes to open data.

The U.S. City Open Data Census recently listed Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco as the top three cities to embrace open data.

The findings represent a promising win for the city of Los Angeles, which made a sizable investment into its civic tech initiatives in 2014, and was told only two years before that it wasn’t even capable of placing. Now, however, L.A. has moved up the ranking to take the No. 1 spot as of May 26.

The ongoing census is driven by the civic innovation and transparency advocates Code for America (CfA), the Sunlight Foundation and the Open Knowledge Foundation with metrics based on open data accessibility, availability and quality.

Since taking office in July 2013, Mayor Eric Garcetti has sought to define his leadership through civic innovation and data-driven initiatives. Garcetti’s headlining digital advancements include launching L.A.’s first open data portal, its first sustainability performance dashboard and the city’s first financial transparency site managed by the controller’s office. Further, the announcement was coupled with news of L.A.’s participation in the World Council on City Data (WCCD), a network of cities participating in an international data standards for sustainable cities.

"This isn’t just good data for data’s sake," Garcetti said in a release. "I’m invested in harnessing the power of our open data to make city hall run better, provide better services to Angelenos, and improve quality of life here in L.A.”

Garcetti piloted the projects in August with such civic tech experts as Abhi Nemani, formerly CfA’s co-executive director who now serves as Los Angeles' chief data officer, and Peter Marx, the city's chief innovation technology officer.

Nemani said the next steps are to prioritize the expansion of the city’s open data foundation through additional data sets and digital tools.

“That means publishing more and more data sets, as well as accelerating our pace of update, improving its accessibility, and building tools that make it simple and easy to engage with the data,” Nemani said. “What’s next for open data is making it even more real-time, understandable and actionable.”

Within the census rankings, which include an array of 19 civic measurements, L.A. did have minor areas to improve upon within the categories of asset disclosure and finance contributions. But the city had a sizable lead over typical frontrunners like New York City and San Francisco that lack open data completely in some categories. For New York, this included an absence of machine readable data for asset disclosures and Web analytics; and San Francisco also lacked Web analytics, as well as parcel data.

Overall, the majority of cities that reported shared a number of open data strengths and weaknesses. Common struggles were attached to spending information, parcel data, procurement contracts, Web analytics and service requests. Core strengths included budget data, zoning GIS data and construction permits. 

Top 15 Open Data Cities

Below is a list of the top 15 cities leveraging open data. Click here to see the 98 cities listed in the census.

 1. Los Angeles
 2. New York
 3. San Francisco
 4. Boston
 5. Philadelphia
 6. Las Vegas
 7. Albuquerque, N.M.
 8. Asheville, N.C.
 9. Atlanta
10. Chicago
11. Sacramento, Calif.
12. Salt Lake City
13. Washington, D.C.
14. Austin, Texas
15. Seattle

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.