Philadelphia Gets Going and Gets Open

Published September 26, 2013 by Jessica Lord, GitHub

A little over a year ago Mark Headd was named the Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia and he hit the ground running using GitHub to help “support some of our core objectives - specifically, collaboration and engagement to provide improved delivery of government services and information.” Theirs is a great story for a city that went from step one to awesome.

On the very first day he created a new GitHub account for the City’s Data Officer and posted the city’s open data policy as a Gist.

Next they created a GitHub Organization for the City of Philadelphia. Here the city staff are members of the organization and they add their public facing code to repositories under the organization to share with others and review pull requests.

The City has created an open source app, the City’s Assessment Calculator App, used earlier this year when new tax assessments were mailed out to all city property owners. The app also uses GitHub Pages for free hosting.

Philadelphia is also using GitHub to store and host the data they’re opening up. Headd says, “the amazing support for GeoJSON that was announced earlier this year did it for us. We started posting some of our geospatial data to GitHub, and we’re encouraging our data community to help us convert some of the Shapefiles we already make public into other formats and host them on GitHub.” You can view maps of the city’s police districts, farmers markets and school facilities. Each of these is also available in CSV, which is also viewable on GitHub.

As if all of this work wasn’t awesome enough, Headd and his team have posted their Open Government Plan and are using GitHub Issues to get feedback and data requests and are using GitHub to experiment with better procurement. You can read his overview of the process here.

Follow the City of Philadelphia on GitHub to see what they do next. Send feedback or use one of their projects (and let us know!).

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See an error or have a story of your own to tell? This page is open source, so submit a pull request!