Searching the Austin Open Data Portal

The Austin Open Data Portal contains hundreds of datasets, maps, views, and other useful information. Here are some tips to help you find what you need.

Using the Search sidebar

You can find the Search sidebar on the front page of the portal, in the left column, about halfway down the page. In the image below, the sidebar is highlighted with a green border.

The Search sidebar contains several ways in which you can search the portal: by keyword, view type, category, and topic. Each numbered section below corresponds to a number in the above image.

1. Search by keyword

Use the Search text box at the top of the sidebar to search by keyword. Enter a word or phrase and press the Enter button. Results display in the following order: matches in the title, matches in the dataset, and matches in the metadata.

Keyword search tips:
  • You can use AND or OR (and other standard Boolean operators) between words to specify the type of search you want. If you enter multiple words with no AND or OR between them, an AND search is performed.
  • The search engine uses "word stemming," which means if you type the word "educational," you will get results that match similar words like "educate" and "educating."
  • If you are unable to find any data or views with your keyword search, try another different term. For example, if you don't get results with "noise violation," try "loud noise."

2. Search by view type

The data portal contains not only datasets but other views, which are listed in the Search sidebar:
  • dataset.pngDatasets -- Collections of data from City of Austin departments, which can include everything from restaurant inspections to residential water consumption to 311 records.

  • chart.pngCharts -- Pie charts, bar graphs, and other visual displays of the datasets. City staff have created some official charts, but portal users (like yourself) can also create and share charts and graphs.

  • map.pngMaps -- Data plotted on a Google map. City staff have created some official maps, but portal users can also create and share maps. Note: Maps can only be created for data sets with location information.

  • calendar.pngCalendars -- Date and time data from datasets filtered into a monthly calendar format by City staff. Data portal users do not have permissions to create calendars from datasets.

  • filter.pngFiltered Views -- Subsets of datasets that have been sorted and filtered, either by City staff or by portal users. For example, a filtered view might include data from only one month or one year, or for only one zip code.

  • external.pngExternal Datasets -- Links to datasets from other websites, such as US Census data and Austin Energy data. The datasets are in formats such as PDF, CSV, and ZIP files, which you can download to your computer.

  • filedoc.pngFiles and Documents -- Documents and images from City of Austin departments, such as EMS, available in Microsoft Word, PDF, PNG or other formats you can download to your computer.

  • forms.pngForms -- City of Austin submission forms related to datasets.

Each item in the data portal is tagged with the icon for its view type. You can view a list of the icons and their corresponding view types in the Search sidebar under the text box.
To search a specific type of view -- for example, only datasets or only maps -- click the appropriate icon in the list. A page listing all the items in that view type appears. From that page, you can enter specific terms in the Search text box to find something in a dataset.

For example, you can click the Dataset icon to display a list of all datasets. You can then use the Search text box to find a specific type of dataset.

3. Search by category

You can also search the portal by category. A list of categories appears in the search sidebar under the list of views. Only the first few categories display in the sidebar, so click View All to see a complete list. Examples of categories include Business, Environmental, Neighborhood, and Transportation.

4. Search by topic

A list of popular search topics appears in the Search sidebar under the category list.

In addition, you can click View All to pop up a word cloud of topics, in which the words are sized by the number of datasets in which they appear. Click a specific word or phrase to display the search results for that topic.

5. Combined searches

You don't need to search exclusively by term, category, or view. You can combine a search -- for example, you could search for datasets in the Utility category using the term Water.

After you've found the dataset you're looking for, you can filter the data to create a custom set for your needs. You can create

Next steps for documentation:

  • Ways to view search result lists -- compact list vs rich list
  • how to search within a dataset or view (whole different topic)