Open Data

Annual Report


A report on the status

of open data in Chicago

and actions for 2014.

Chicago Open Data Executive Order

On December 10, 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued Executive Order 2012-2 to codify his commitment to open data. The order requires each city agency to make reasonable efforts to publish all appropriate datasets and associated metadata under such agency's control to the data portal.

The executive order establishes an Open Data Advisory Group comprised of Open Data Coordinators from each City department. The Open Data Advisory Group assists the Chief Data Officer and Department of Innovation and Technology in creating the Open Data Annual Report.

The City of Chicago's inaugural technology plan outlines several key objectives. First, to continue to release more data to the public as part of creating a more efficient government. Second, to expand the use of social and digital media to communicate with the public. Finally, to consolidate local IT services to improve efficiency and quality of delivery.

Using the aforementioned objectives, the City of Chicago will increase the presence of open data through the following key initiatives:

  • The City will continue to publish 311 call types to provide a deeper perspective on service requests made by Chicago's residents.
  • The City will target the publication of at least 25 more datasets in the upcoming year, which are enumerated in this report.
  • When contracting for goods or services that will generate data, the City will identify publishable datasets and metadata at the outset.
  • The City will used advanced analytical techniques to identify frequently-requested data to target for release on the open data portal.
  • The portal will contain a new, public method to solicit suggestions for new datasets.
  • The City will create and maintain a new Open Data Status Blog to provide details to portal users.

Chicago's open data efforts have expanded

beyond the portal to multiple areas

of service.

Open Data Portal

Chicago's open data portal provides user-friendly access to almost 600 datasets. The public can browse data in a spreadsheet-like format and create maps, and graphs. The data portal is also used by Chicago's vibrant civic-developer community to create helpful applications to connect the public to data.


Chicago has begun releasing select datasets on the City's GitHub account. These data are provided in a business-friendly MIT license and provide the civic-developer community a chance to propose edits and detect errors.

Chicago Data Dictionary

Chicago's data dictionary will display all metadata--data about data--on each dataset. While the data portal displays actual data, the data dictionary will provide a map for every database in the city, including data not published on the portal. The data dictionary is a key step to providing full transparency to the city's data.

Chicago's Open Data Portal

provides user-friendly access

to almost 600 datasets.

Launched in May 2010, the portal has quickly grown in less than four years. The open data portal contains almost 600 datasets on activities and information that shape the city and our lives. Visitors to the portal can get information on salaries for city employees, business licenses, energy consumption in each neighborhood, to where Chicagoans can recycle their Christmas trees. The data portal has helped spur a vibrant software development and data science community in Chicago .



There have been almost 2.9 million page views from May 2011 through October 2013. Access to City data has minimized expenses by using automation to maintain data on the portal. Most datasets are refreshed each night automatically. In addition, open data has enabled developers to create a wealth of applications to inform Chicago's residents and improve the day-to-day life.

Page Views


Earlier this year, Chicago published a list of authorized public chauffeurs--a list of licensed drivers for taxis, limosuines, and other vehicles. Cab companies and other public chauffeurs can freely access up-to-date information on their cab drivers to guarantee that only licensed chauffeurs are on the streets.

Open data has enabled developers to create a wealth of applications for Chicago's residents. These applications range from browsing 311 requests, to reminding residents of street cleanings, to informing residents on the location and nuances of zoning laws. The data portal has also enabled developers to meet weekly at civic hack nights and help Chicago host over a dozen hackathons this past summer.

Datasets have more than doubled

As of December 20, 2013, the data portal contains 592 datasets across a range of categories. Just two years prior, the portal only contained 271 datasets. View data

Data Portal Visitors are Growing

Views have steadily increased to 102,867 in August 2013. Notable peaks occurred in past months, including June 2011 when views rocketed to 190,880 through the month. That month, City of Chicago released all crimes dating to 2011, which is still one of the most-viewed datasets on the portal. View data

Downloads More than Doubled

As datasets have increased, the total amount of data downloaded and viewed on the portal has significantly increased. In November 2013, 6.4 terabytes of data were accessed on the portal. One eyar ago, only 2.0 terabytes were access. In one year, the amount of data accessed grew over 200%. View data

Chicago's inaugural tech plan outlines

clear objectives for the future of

open data in the city.

The City will continue to

increase and improve the quality

of City data available internally and

externally, and facilitate methods for

analyzing that data to help create a

smarter and more efficient city.

Initiative 14, Chicago Tech Plan

The City will expand and update its

mobile, social media, and online

technology to increase and improve

communication and interaction with


Initiative 15, Chicago Tech Plan

Consolidate local government

data centers.

Initiative 16, Chicago Tech Plan

To achieve these goals, the city will

embark on an aggressive set of key

initiatives for open data.

Open Data and City Procurement

The City will work to develop contract provisions that promote open data in procurements that contain data systems, such as the City's Divvy bike share system. These provisions will promote the City's open data policies, and, where appropriate, require that data be posted on

Publishing Most Frequent FOIA Requests

Chicago will use text mining techniques to analyze Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to identify frequently-requested datasets and post them to the data portal. In addition to making popular data available to the public, this approach may also reduce FOIA requests. As an example of the success of this approach, in the 9 months after releasing environmental records, the Department of Public Health (CDPH) experienced a 65% drop in the number of FOIA requests for environmental records.

Improve City-County Coordination

The City and County will work together to streamline the public's access to City and County data and identify opportunities to coordinate more closely in the release of related datasets.

Dataset Requests

The City will create a new portal to allow residents to make requests for datasets to be made public. Residents will be able to continue requesting datasets by e-mailing or tweeting to @ChicagoCDO.

Open Data Status Blog

The City of Chicago will launch a new blog to provide updates on the data portal. In addition to @ChicagoCDO, the portal will record and archive changes to datasets, explanations of outages, and responses to frequent questions.

Datasets in upcoming year

The Open Data Coordinators worked with their respective departments to identify new and pertinent data for the portal. An exciting list of datasets have been identified as targets for the upcoming year, including the release of 311 calls, City-owned vehicles, buildings, and over a dozen of other call types.

311 Calls

Chicago currently discloses 311 data for the twelve most common service requests, which collectively account for nearly half of all calls to the 311 system. These sets include calls to fix potholes and clean graffiti. In the upcoming year, Chicago will release more 311 calls on the data portal, including rodent sightings, illegal business complaints, aircraft noise complaints, and complaints about improper heating or cooling in apartment buildings.

Business Violations

The City issues citations to businesses for violations of City law, including operating without a proper license, selling deceptively marketed and outdated merchandise, and selling tobacco products to minors. This set will include all business violations filed with the City's Department of Administrative Hearings dating back to 2001.

Building, Property, and Construction Violations

The City issues citations to building owners and property owner's agents for violations of the Building Code. These include building safety and building exterior and interior maintenance violations, as well as work performed without a permit. Examples of citations include: defective or deteriorated plumbing or electrical; deteriorated porches; loose or falling brick masonry; unsecured vacant properties; illegal conversation of a single family home to a multiple unit home; failure to provide heat to a rented unit; building or renovating without or contrary a permit; and many other safety and quality of life violations. This set will include all building code violations with the City's Department of Administrative Hearings dating back to 2001.

Public Safety and Hazard Violations

The City issues citations for violations of city law that pose a hazard to public safety, including driving while using a mobile telephone or impaired driving. This set will include certain anonymized safety and hazard violations filed with the City's Department of Administrative Hearings dating back to 2001.

City-owned Assets

The City-owned assets dataset will contain a list of assets owned by the City, including a list of all vehicles along with information on the type of vehicle, and several other key characteristics.

Targeted Datasets

Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities

  • Home accessibility modifications completed by ward - Modifications for people with disabilities under the age of 60 to make their living environment accessible.
  • Number of accessibility permit reviews conducted - Reviews of whether building plans submitted for permit approval are compliant with accessibility requirements in the Chicago code.
  • Number of accessibility permit requests fulfilled - Fulfilled permits after conducting accessibility permit reviews.
  • Transportation

  • Red-light cameras - Location of red-light cameras placed at intersections in Chicago
  • Speed camera locations - Location of speed-cameras placed on Chicago's roads.
  • DIVVY bike usage - ridership and usage details of the DIVVY bike program.
  • Fleet and Facility Management

  • City-owned vehicles - A list and selected details of city-owned vehicles, such as type of vehicle and several other key characteristics.
  • City-owned leased buildings - A selected list of city-owned and leased buildings.
  • Administrative Hearings

  • Building code violations - Administrative hearings records and dispositions of organizations cited for violations of safety standards, failiing to secure vacant properties, failure to maintain construction site cleanliness, and other building code violations.
  • Business violations - Records and disposition of selected violations committed by businesses, such as selling tobacco products to minors or deceptive practices.
  • Public safety and harzard violations - Anonymized administrative hearings records and dispositions cited for certain violations including driving under the influence or operating a mobile phone while driving that create a hazard for individuals or the community.
  • Housing & Economic Development

  • Vacant storefronts - Locations of known vacant storefronts.
  • Micro-market Recovery Program - Locations, permits, and inspections of a citywide neighborhood stabilization program targeting areas with high foreclosure rates.
  • Family & Support Services

  • Congregate Dining Sites - Data on volume of services provided through the congregate dining meal program for Chicago's senior citizens.
  • Health

  • West Nile Spray locations - Locations sprayed to prevent insects spreading the West Nile virus.
  • CHAMPS data - Information on the volume of services provided to Chicago children with asthma.
  • Cultural Affairs & Special Events

  • Cultural Grant Awards - Information on the awardees and grants provided by the department to enrich Chicago's artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy.
  • Business Affairs & Consumer Protection

  • Sidewalk Cafe Permits - Location and information on permits granted to businesses for place seating and dining area on city sidewalks.
  • Public Vehicle Licenses - Medallions and licenses issues to public chauffeurs and taxi drivers, including information on those registered vehicles.
  • Business License Enforcement - Information on enforcement and inspections of businesses in Chicago.
  • The growth of the data portal has been exciting for those in government and the entire city. There are a number of large, notable datasets that residents, programmers, and journalists have frequently used, such as employee salaries, crime, permits, and payments. Through open data, Chicago has been able to serve residents in the 21st Century. Whether it's exploring energy usage in your community, when to move your car for street sweeping, or where to get a flu shot.

    Yet, the data portal is still young. There is still more data that has yet to be published. This document lays out Mayor Emanuel's initiatives to further the open data movement in Chicago and foster an open government. We must continue to set higher expectations for ourselves and serve the people, to whom this data belongs.

    The foundation for Chicago's open government policy is the passionate civic developers and good government communities. The engagement between community and government must continue to grow, beginning with this report. Which datasets would you like to see on the portal? How can the portal be changed to improve usability? These questions and your suggestions will be vital to helping further open data.

    We encourage you to provide us your suggestions and feedback. Get in touch with us at or @ChicagoCDO. We look forward to working together on opening Chicago's government to the world.

    Brenna Berman

    Commissioner and Chief Information Officer, City of Chicago
      Administrative Hearings
    • Alladdin Jackson
    • Budget
    • Linda Hanacek
    • Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
    • Jeffrey Lewelling
    • Ethics
    • Jeffrey Johnson
    • Family and Social Services
    • David Wells
    • Finance
    • Jason Yost
      Fleet and Facility Management
    • Aimee Heinzel
    • Health
    • Erica Salem
    • Sherri Cohen
    • Housing and Economic Development
    • John Karnuth
    • Human Relations
    • Iris Archilla
    • Innovation and Technology
    • Jonathan Levy
    • Tom Schenk Jr.
    • Law
    • David Rogan
      Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
    • Joe Albritton
    • Office of Emergency Management and Communications
    • Jonathan Lewin
    • Procurement
    • Catherine Kwiatkowski
    • Streets and Sanitation
    • John Dunn
    • Christopher Reiser
    • Transportation
    • Jeffry Goliber
    • Water
    • Barrett Murphy