Collaborative Open Data


In the City of Syracuse, assets like catchbasins, sidewalk curb corners, and stop signs are not mapped in geographic information systems. Knowing where these assets are, we could easily analyze which catchbasins are not working properly based on flooding calls, or where sidewalk curb corners are not ADA compliant. The problem is with thousands of each asset and no dedicated staff to digitize this information, the project is too large, time consuming, and expensive, for just the city to take on. Residents also do not always know the purpose of maintaining city assets, and may not be engaged to their fullest potential.


Using crowdsourcing techniques, residents could help with data collection, while saving the city time and money and contributing to open government. Crowdsourcing is already used in a variety of ways, from products like Wikipedia to programs like Open Street Map. With constrained budgets and staff time, cities can take advantage of crowdsourcing to collect data on municipally-owned assets, which not only gives cities access to critical data, but also helps residents better understand and feel more connected to government. The city could make all of the data publicly available for further analysis and expanded partnership opportunities with the public. To make this happen in Syracuse, we are using the open data portal we created and have partnered with Syracuse University on some infrastructure data-collection tasks, while also pursuing funding from local foundations and national funders like the National Science Foundation.

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