News, Open Data

The 80-20 Rule of Government Data

One of the questions we face when liberating government data is prioritization. Our end goal is to release all raw govt data to the public in open machine readable formats – but which ones first? Our approach is to go after the low-hanging fruit initially (already available) and then focus on measuring public demand through the use of an open source voting platform.

While tracking demand through community voting is a decent proxy for actual demand,  we were curious as to what the demand would look like in a mature environment; more specifically the frequency distribution of data consumption. So we reached out to the folks in DC who pioneered this space (special thanks to David Strigel, Program Manager – Citywide Data Warehouse).

What you see in the chart below(full size) isn’t too surprising; crime and 311 data are clear hits with 56% of total downloads. We also see that 80% of downloads come from 20% of datasets. The other fact that is notable is the number of downloads – 600,548 which doesn’t even take into account use in dashboards, reports, and applications (10/1/08 – 5/13/09).

The large number of downloads is very encouraging for other municipalities and speaks to how much public demand exists for machine readable datasets.  This is an important fact, as we attempt to define measures for Gov 2.0 efforts that demonstrate value to our stakeholders.

-Jay Nath

Source data – CSV
Source data – Excel
Full size chart

DC Dataset Downloads

DC Dataset Downloads


11 thoughts on “The 80-20 Rule of Government Data

  1. That’s interesting that the crime data is the most popular, but not surprising. I’ve grabbed that dataset in order to map it for the public.

    Here’s the resulting public map. Note that there is also an open API to grab any chunks of the data in many formats for use in other applications.

    Some of our datasets and maps come directly from a partnership with local governments through our platform services. It makes it easy for them to get their data online quickly.

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  5. I would like to know the number of unique downloads. Think about the apps. These feeds are not realtime. If you want to get updated data every day you will have to go and download them every day. Take for instance a great app like “Are you Safe” They might account for 365 downloads a year.

    What are the unique downloads?

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