Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Geospacial Open Data in KY - Louisville v Lexington (Part 2)

Following up on my last post about the state of open data in Kentucky, I want to now do a detailed comparison of every city in Kentucky that has open data online, and give them some sort of ranking.

Right now, only Louisville and Lexington, KY's two largest cities, have any open data as far as I know.  Please leave a comment if you know of another city or have heard another one might be opening their data soon.

There are two types of geospacial open data I'm going to look at, CSV/OMG formatted bulk address-level data, and GIS layer/shape data.  The CSV data is good to pull into a standard database and create javascript based online maps of point visualizations, like we do at Your Mapper.  The GIS data is great for doing offline (though some online) visualizations and creating map-based reports and analysis, like Map Grapher does.

I prefer the bulk CSV data format, because if you want to you can import this into a GIS system, but it's harder to break GIS data in a CSV format for generic database loading.  Having said that, some data is best output in GIS formats, like polygon area outlines (instead of point data).

I'd also like to point out what open data is.  It's not just that it's data on a website in an interactive form, or a PDF to download.  And it doesn't count if it costs money for a complete download.  See the 8 principles of open data for a list, and I'd like to add that historic data is a ninth principle.

Louisville v. Lexington

Right now, the only two cities in KY with an open data portal are Louisville and Lexington.  So it's a UK v. UofL, or Red vs. Blue, matchup for now.  The data are things like crime reports, 311 calls, business licenses, restaurant health ratings, building permits, bike racks, parking meters, property values, recent home sales, vacant properties, and foreclosures, and also GIS layer data.

So let's compare the two in the hopes of fostering some friendly competition and pushing each other to open more data.


For this comparison, things are going to be a little arbitrary, ie, mostly what I would like to see opened up, and what I believe to be important.  But I am referencing existing open data city portals across the United States to see what they have opened.

Each dataset on the list that is open and freely downloadable gets a point.  It gets a bonus point if the city has included Latitude and Longitude for each point.

It also gets a bonus point if it includes historic data, although the only dataset that has historic data in this list also has it released by the city is Louisville Restaurant Health Ratings.  For example, Louisville has opened crime reports, but it's only the last 90 days, and building permits, but it's only currently open permits.

So here is the point chart of open data for Louisville and Lexington!

Dataset Louisville Lexington


Point Data

Crime Reports Yes, Lat/Lon

311 Calls

Property Maintenance Yes, Lat/Lon

Liquor Licenses Yes, Lat/Lon

Code Violations


Fire Stations

Yes, Lat/Lon

Historic Landmarks

Yes, Lat/Lon


Business Licenses

Restaurant Health Ratings Yes, Lat/Lon, Historic

Building Permits
Yes, Lat/Lon

Bike Racks

Parking Meters

Property Values

Recent Home Sales

Vacant Properties

Yes, Lat/Lon


Public Transit Stops Yes, Lat/Lon
Yes, Lat/Lon

Parks Yes, Lat/Lon

Yes, Lat/Lon

Sub Points 15 0 2 8

Sub Total 15 10

Louisville Lexington


Lines/Areas Data

Bike Trails

Yes, Lat/Lon

Bike Paths
Yes, Lat/Lon
Yes, Lat/Lon

Council Districts

Yes, Lat/Lon

Parcel Boundaries

Yes, Lat/Lon


Yes, Lat/Lon

Street Data

Yes, Lat/Lon

Traffic Signals

Yes, Lat/Lon


Yes, Lat/Lon



Yes, Lat/Lon


Yes, Lat/Lon


Yes, Lat/Lon


Yes, Lat/Lon

Sub Points 0 2 0 24

Sub Total 2 24

Louisville Lexington


Total Points 15 2 2 32

Total Score 17 34

The Final Total Score is

Louisville - 17
Lexington - 34
Lexington is the current winner!


Basically, Louisville should open their GIS data, and Lexington should open their CSV data. Then this exercise would be a more fair comparison.

Both cities are doing a great job of including latitude and longitude with each dataset.

Louisville should look at opening all of its historic data for crime, licenses, maintenance, and permits.

Both cities should open a wider range of datasets from the lists above.

Other cities should get on board with open data as well.  I'd love to see Owensboro, Frankfort, Paducah, Bowling Green, Pikeville, Covington, Ashland, and Glasgow launch open data portals.

The state itself should also open its data, like property values, sex offenders, and crime reports from its KYOps system.

What do you think?   Let me know if I have missed anything important, or done any math incorrectly.

Hopefully I can generate some discussion about what is open data, how effective is each city at opening their data, and what each needs to do to open more.  What would you use open data for?


Nick said...

Michael - this is an awesome analysis! The holes in the table make for a pretty good roadmap for what can come next :)

Mariam Benny said...

Thanks for the table! As always, I looked at the historic landmarks first. With this guide, I'm planning to go to Lexington. Thank you!