How to Use the City of Austin Open Data Portal

data-portal-howto-page-logo.jpgThe City of Austin Open Data Portal at data.austintexas.gov provides public access to datasets from the Austin municipal government. It uses the Socrata data portal software to help you share data, visualize it in charts, and perform lightweight analysis. The how-to tutorials on this site use Austin data and the Socrata platform to show you basic and common tasks. Each process listed below will walk you through many of the functions available on the portal, so you can use any data you need as effectively as possible.

Resources on this website include:

  • Get started -- Look at an overview at the portal layout and functions.
  • Create an account -- Set up a Socrata account if you want to save filtered views of a data set, or save and possibly share charts and maps that use a dataset.
  • Search the data portal -- Look for data, maps and charts, and filtered views in a number of different ways.
  • Filter a Data Set -- Customize a dataset by applying filters.
  • Create a map -- Plot your dataset on a city map.
  • Group and roll up data -- Add Grouping columns and Roll-Up columns to select the specific data you want to visualize.
  • Visualize data with a chart -- Select the chart type and add labels to view your data in a graphical format.
  • Download Data -- Download a dataset or filtered data into a spreadsheet or data analysis application.
  • Share your data solutions -- Embed visual data on a web page, or share a link to a page with your data.

Other resources:

Why would I care about this data?

  • Have you ever read a report from the city government and wondered about an analysis that wasn't included? You can access many data sets here and conduct your own analyses.
  • Do you wonder how your neighborhood may compare to others with respect to graffiti, bats, or loud music? The 311 dataset can help you compare parts of the city.
  • Do you work with a community organization? The data here may help you bolster your grant applications or impact statements.
  • Looking at this data may also help you better understand your community.

Is it difficult to make sense of this data?

The Socrata data portal software was developed to provide a relatively user-friendly way to access and analyze data. Some tasks may look confusing at first, so we've provided material to help you get started.

What if I'm a spreadsheet jockey? What if I live in an analysis package like R or QGIS?

If you think in spreadsheet or are fluent in statistical software, you may be frustrated with the analytical tools Socrata provides It may be more fruitful for you to just download a dataset and analyze it in your tool of choice than learn how to use the tools baked into Socrata. The tools here have limitations, and you'll be able to accomplish more in a tool you know well.

What if I can't find the data I'm looking for?

If you've searched and searched, and you can't find the data you're looking for, you can request a dataset using this form. Note that in some cases, you may have to make a public information request. In other cases, the department with the data may not have the data in a form that can be shared with the public.

This is awesome! How can I get involved?

Open Austin is a volunteer-run community organization that advocates for open data at the local level and nurtures civic hacking projects. Open Austin has monthly meetups and a mailing list.

About this website

This project was initiated at the ATX Hack for Change 2014, held May 31 through Jun 1 at St. Edward's University. It was created by Juliette Kernion, Alane Fitzgerald, Chris McConnell, Marbenn Cayetano, and Tim. Gail Maynard designed our logo.

This website is maintained by Open Austin volunteers. If you have questions or wish to volunteer, contact info@open-austin.org.
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