Open Data In Action - Our Top 25
November 09, 2015

"But what if we don't have enough data?"

This is a concern we hear from social change organizations, but the truth is data is everywhere. It's pouring off laptops and cell phones. It's being crowd-sourced from the ground up, scraped off websites or being opened up for all to use.

With such abundance, what makes organizations feel like they don't have enough? Data is like oil - you have to refine it before it becomes useful so you can fuel your car or heat your home.

That's why the Open Data, Civic Tech and Data for Good Movements are so closely linked. Open data initiatives are unlocking information as civic tech and data for good intiatives are using it to fuel action that makes our communities stronger.

Ready for some examples? Here are our top 25 showcasing how DataKind volunteers, partner organizations and friends are using open and publicly available data or opening it up themselves to make the world better.  We'd love to hear yours! Sound off in the comments or on Twitter.


Strengthening Cities

U.S. - DataKind Labs’ inaugural project with Vision Zero will leverage newly-available data sets, including open city data, to help cities better allocate their resources to prevent severe traffic collisions and keep all road users safe.

New York, U.S. - A DataDive team created an algorithm using publicly available data that helped the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation tree pruning program prevent future hazards for NYC residents.

Chicago, U.S. - Using historical data they had collected about locations of fatal fires combined with public data from the city, a team of DataKind volunteers helped the American Red Cross identify key factors correlated to past fires and built a model and interactive map that helped the organization predict the likelihood a building will catch fire in the future.

Washington, DC, U.S. - A DataDive team used publicly available data and worked with the American Red Cross to prototype a model that predicts and maps which counties American Red Cross should target for its next smoke alarm installation campaigns to prevent home fire deaths and injuries.

U.S. - When DataKind DC and Enigma learned that they were each using open data to prevent home fire deaths and injuries, they joined forces to predict the fire risk block by block for over 170 cities across the United States.  

Bangalore, India - Janaagraha's civic portal IChangeMyCity promotes promotes civic action at a neighborhood level by enabling citizens to report a complaint that then gets upvoted by the community and flagged for government officials to take action. A DataDive team helped reduce duplications and understand what was preventing open issues from being closed out to ensure this crowd-sourced data was indeed spurring action.

San Francisco, U.S. - A DataDive team helped SFHIP use publicly available GIS files and datasets, including demographic information, locations of key institutions like schools, and crime data to create an automated interactive data visualization tool that San Francisco residents can use to glean insights into factors that impact public safety.


Mapping Local Needs

Washington DC, U.S. - Using open data, multiple DataKind teams created a visualization of factors related to childhood wellbeing in Washington, DC for local nonprofit DC Action for Children.

UK - A DataDive team used local open data and reused the code from the DC Action for Children project, creating a similar tool to help local charity, North East Child Poverty Commission, better understand child poverty in the North East of England.

Leeds, UK - Another DataDive team again used open local data and reused the code from the DC Action for Children project to create a visualization tool for multiple charities that allows people to explore features of financial, young NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and mental health inequality in the city.

Louisville, U.S. - A Code for America team repurposed DC Action for Children's code with open local data to help Kentucky Youth Advocates understand the factors affecting successful children outcomes across Council Districts.

India - DataKind Bangalore Chapter Leader, Gaurav Godhwani, used open local data and repurposed DC Action for Children's code using open data as part of DataLook's Open Impact Marathon to map Status of State Road Transport Undertakings.

UK - A DataDive team mapped public data to locate children suffering from life-limiting diseases to help Shooting Star Chase, a children's hospice, determine where to expand its services.

India - A DataDive team helped Digital Green used public data to create maps of local farming conditions to build a recommendation system for the organization's educational videos to help support rural farmers.


Sharing Data for a Wider View

London, UK - At a DataKind UK DataDive, Citizens Advice Bureau opened and shared its relevant data with two other charities at the event, utilizing (newly) opened data to improve lives in the UK.

London, UK - At the same DataKind UK DataDive, a team helped St. Mungos Broadway explore the types of issues people went to Citizens Advice for help with before they ended up homeless in St Mungo’s Broadway’s system.

U.S. - Guidestar is a nonprofit that itself makes public data on nonprofit 990 tax forms in the U.S. easier to access for others to use. During this DataDive, they reached out to another organization, GreatNonprofits, to share their data to create a more robust model to help them predict and prevent nonprofits going into financial default.

U.S. - DataKind partner Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 text hotline, launched Crisis Trends to share its anonymized data to empower journalists, researchers, and citizens to understand the crises Americans face to prevent future crises from happening.


Increasing Transparency and Informing Decisions

U.S. - DataKind's Data Engineer Pete Darche used data from the OpenSecrets lobbying database to help Sunlight Foundation create an affinity score metric that demonstrates how swayable specific elected officials are—how quickly and strongly that official aligns behavior to the special interests providing funding.

Global - A DataDive team scraped data on the enforcement of the European Court of Human Rights judgements and began to link it with HURIDOCS current dataset of court decisions, giving human rights activists an easy way to ensure that judgements in key countries were indeed being implemented.

Global - A DataDive team helped Microfinance Information Exchange scrape key websites to more easily collect the publicly available financial information it uses to help microfinance institutions, funders, networks, and service providers around the world make better decisions.

Global - A DataDive scraped commodity price data from the web to help The World Bank enable banks and governments worldwide to more accurately set monetary policies and best respond during times of crisis.


Birds-Eye View on Global Issues

East Africa - Two DataCorps teams worked with GiveDirectly to explore how publicly available satellite imagery could be used to understand poverty levels of villages in Kenya and Uganda.

Global - A DataDive team combined poverty data from 2001 and 2005 and satellite images of illumination to help The World Bank see if there was a correlation between poverty levels around the world and the levels of illumination.

Global - A DataDive team analyzed thousands of tweets to identify key influencers in Earth Hour's supporters to more effectively inspire people to take action in the fight against global warming.   


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