We just released five datasets—street locations, building footprints, bike routes, pedway routes and bike rack locations—with an open source license on GitHub.

Anyone can now change the data when new bike paths are built, when roads are under construction, and new buildings are erected. When you want to improve our data, just fork it. Users are encouraged to improve data accuracy, combine it with other data sources, or download and use it for analysis or a new app.

All of the city’s data on GitHub is being released under an MIT License, who, gives you the right to use data for any purposes. Users have the right to download, modify, or use it for any purpose, including commercialization. Projects like OpenStreetMaps, an online community of over 1 million volunteers which have built a free international mapping and trip planning website, will be able to add over 2 gigabytes of data to their site. Companies can use this data as part of daily business.

GitHub comes with its own set of terminology, so here’s a quick run-down:

  • Repositories: Each dataset we release is stored as a repository.
  • Fork: create your own copy of the repository, which can be modified in any way.
  • Commits: making changes to a repository and posting it on GitHub.
  • Pull Request: suggest that the city incorporate changes to the repository.
  • Blaming: point-out that someone has made an error when committing to a repository.

GitHub also provides a nice rundown in this video to get you started.

The data is being released as either GeoJSON or CSV and each repository contains a quick tutorial on how to use the data with R, Python, or Ruby languages. In addition, GeoJSON is also compatible with QuantumGIS, which is free, open-source GIS application that can be used to view the data as a map.

Have questions or want to chat with the City’s Data Team? Email us at developers@cityofchicago.org, or contact @ChicagoCDO on Twitter.

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