Open Data in Washington

What is Open Data

“Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose” –
Open Data means public data that are freely available, machine readable, and structured in a way that enables the data to be fully discoverable and usable by end users. --
OpenData as a target

What it isn't

Not all data is meant to be open
- personal data (SSN, HIPAA, passwds
Not all public content is useful
- unstructured data like emails, images

Some Examples

Professional Credentials

Bonded Contractors

Trails coop

GIS professionals from across the state contributed trail routes for this low-cost statewide open data project

WA state Fiscal site

The state fo WA publishes all its fiscal data on  It's a full-featured  transparency site with professional staff.

Who Will Use Open Data?

Civic Developers

This is placeholder text. To get started, remove it and input your own information! But if you are the curious type—and I’m pretty sure you are—you might be surprised that stories are more memorable than charts and data alone. That’s because new stories stick to memories we already have and that means we can more easily relate (and remember!). So don’t forget to tell a story.
tiles of civic software projects
The Transit App from Google store

Commercial Developers

OneBusAway and Transit apps are commercial software that use open transit data to help people get around cities all over the world.
Walkscore / Bikescore “The Bike Lane Score is based on shapefile data provided to Walk Score by city governments. Bike lane infrastructure currently includes all on and off street bike lanes/paths but does not include infrastructure such as bike parking, bike sharing, etc.”

Other Governments

Lewiston Open Checkbook  cities that share a border can coordinate better if they share data, but it can be hard when they're in different states.
Spokane Community Indicators The Community Indicators Initiative of Spokane helps communities around the whole region understand what's going on in Spokane, and informs press, investment nd research.
AWC shares and promotes city open data efforts with its Open Data Portal

What's the Benefit?

Job market data

A transparent business environment is more attractive to business than an opaque one. Indicators from Employment Security Department can help businesses understand your area; localized data can focus on your city.

Less time on PRA

Web posting as complete response
•RCW 42.56.520: “Within five business days of receiving a public record request, an agency, […] must respond in one of the ways provided in this subsection […]
•(a) Providing the record;
•(b) Providing an internet address and link on the agency's web site to the specific records requested

Faster research

Mark Pond, Business librarian, Spokane:
"I use Community Indicators on a regular basis for business research. The site does a really nice job of pulling together a number of disparate data points that can paint the picture of our community. It would be really time-consuming to find those individual points on a one by one by one basis. Also, as a data guy, I love that Community Indicators links out to the original data sources, encouraging further exploration."

Promote your Goals

RCW 43.105.351: “It is the intent of the legislature to encourage state and local governments to develop, store, and manage their public records and information in electronic formats to meet their missions and objectives. Further, it is the intent of the legislature for state and local governments to set priorities for making public records widely available electronically to the public.”

Even a smaller city can publish big data

Johns Creek Georgia is ranked higher than Seattle.

OKFN city open data census
InfoAccess task force report 1995

Doing Data for 20 years now

The state's first work on open data was done back in 1995-96 by the Info Access task force, which published a report that became RCW 43.105.351 et seq.
Open Data is not new, just increasingly useful.

But where to start?

There's so much data and so little budget; we can't afford the staff time for a speculative investment in data with no track record.
Look to your library - librarians know what people in your city are interested in. It may surprise you. They also know how to talk with the public, with students, with researchers.
Pick a few topics that have known demand and improve the data available.  Get and provide training on visualization, data quality.  Keep only the good data.
Will Saunders - The Open Data Guy
Will is the guy responsible for the State of Washington's Open Data efforts.  He's also part of the Office of Privacy and Data Protection, a new(ish) group in the CIO's office created to assess state privacy practices, protect and educate citizens.  He has worked on communications and technology issues for the state since 2005, including work in telephone regulation and economic development. He is admitted to the bar in Washington and Maine and is a graduate of the  IPMA's UW LeaderPath program.