Civic Data

This page curates everything from open government data to visualization tools to data standards to algorithmic implementation. The only common thread is that all these data and data products share a commitment to civic interests.

Open government / civic data

  • Open civic data platforms

    Web-based data access, publishing, and distribution platforms. Open data publishing platforms are usually designed for re-use by others (like Socrata or CKAN).

Crowdsourcing data collection

Platforms that allow a variety of people to contribute data to a common collection.

Data schemas and standards

Formats designed to structure data, which then enables interoperability, analysis, and software development.

Civic data APIs

APIs (application programming interfaces) allow different software to communicate with each other, and in particular, send, receive, and update data. Open government and civic data APIs are an evolution beyond “open data” in that they allow civic technologists to build interoperable apps, instead of just access bulk downloads of open data.

Data visualization

Tools and platforms that visually present & analyze information, like:

Dashboards present and visualize key data, including trends and hotspots, in a single glance. The most common example in this subgenre are municipal dashboards, which display data indicators across a city for operators or citizens to monitor.

Network visualizations are interactive visualizations of networks, such as mapping the social networks of the political elite.

Carbon calculators help people calculate and visualize their — or better yet, companies’ — carbon footprints.

Data science for social good

Data science is used to “unify statistics, data analysis, machine learning and their related methods” to “understand and analyze actual phenomena” using data. (Hayashi, Chikio, 1996. “What is Data Science? Fundamental Concepts and a Heuristic Example“).


The role of place is obviously hugely important in civic technology Mapping tech collects, plots, and displays geographic data.

Civic maps collect and display data geographically to coordinate action, plot resources, or make an argument for change.

Mapping tools provide tooling and utilities for making civic maps.

  • Location services identify the coordinates of people, places, and things.

Mapping platforms are the underlying platforms and tools that draw the maps, such as OpenStreetMap and Google Maps, that you can use.


Accessible databases of civic and media archives.

A Civic Data Primer

Data exists at an interesting and complicated intersection of the computational and the social. “Data” supports the claims we make in essays, and “data” is the fodder of algorithms. We can collect and use data to hold governments accountable just as soon as governments and companies can use data to surveil us. The breadth of definitions and assumptions and processes and literacies that surround “data” – some of which cut directly to the core of scientific inquiry and social life – render the word both dizzying and endless.

The Syllabus