City of Burlington Launches Open Data Web Platform, "BTVdata"


February 20, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

City of Burlington Launches Open Data Web Platform, “BTVdata”
Project Increases Transparency and Accountability, Improves Public Access to
City Data, and Supports Ongoing Efforts to Provide City Services More Efficiently

Burlington, VT – The City of Burlington today launched an open data web platform, called BTVdata, found at, that presents City data in a user-friendly way to help increase transparency and accountability in City government, provide a new forum for public engagement and communication, and support the development of metrics-based management in City governance.  BTVdata features data on City finances, rental housing, permitting, inspections, the “Penny for Parks” program, and more.  The platform also supports important City news links and a consolidated City Twitter feed and, over the long term, is designed to empower developers to build new applications to benefit City residents.

“Restoring transparency, accountability, and metrics-based management in the City’s governance and communicating City goals and progress clearly to our community continue to be top priorities for our City,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.  “Open data is a powerful new tool and an important step to advance those efforts, especially in a city like Burlington with a strong, dynamic tech community.”

Open data is defined as data that can be used or accessed without restriction associated with copyrights or patents.  By making the City’s data more accessible, over the long term it also can enable researchers, entrepreneurs, students, and civic groups like Burlington’s own Code for BTV to use that data to help build creative new tools and innovative apps for our community.  The BTVdata website also contains links specifically for developers

Bradley Holt, a Code for America Brigade Captain with Code for BTV, welcomed the news, stating:  “I offer my congratulations to the City of Burlington on launching its open data platform under the leadership of Mayor Weinberger. Open data can provide for greater transparency, more accountability, and improved effectiveness and efficiency within government. More importantly, open data is an invitation for people and government to collaborate on addressing real-world issues and opportunities within our community – open data can be used by members of the community to build apps, infographics, maps, interactive visualizations, and other tools that can further facilitate public dialogue.”  Code for America is a non-profit organization that leverages developer and coder experience to help connect citizens and governments, encourage innovation, and support a civic tech marketplace.  The City of Burlington’s open data platform will figure prominently in this Saturday’s state-wide civic hackathon, CodeAcrossBTV, sponsored by Code for BTV.

BTVdata was built in partnership with the cloud-based software company, Socrata, and funded in part through a grant from Microsoft.  The City’s twelve-month trial partnership with Socrata enables Burlington to post up to 20 datasets on its web platform.  BTVdata features:

·         Information on the City’s finances, including the General Ledger of revenues and expenses from fiscal year 2013 and projections for fiscal year 2014;
·         Crime statistics on the date, time, general location, and type of incidents that occur in the City of Burlington; and
·         Information on the cost and location of important City investments like Penny for Parks improvements.

Socrata has had success in other cities and states, including larger cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City; smaller cities like Somerville, MA and Weatherford, TX; and states including Oregon, Illinois, and Oklahoma.  Socrata also is working with the State of Vermont to build an open data platform.  In some of these other communities, open data on financial, transportation, and procurement issues have helped generate substantial cost savings.

In addition to the datasets, the City’s open data platform features interactive maps with helpful information about City wards and City planted and maintained trees, as well as numerous additional “views” of the different datasets.  Since the datasets are published in the most granular form possible, these views allow users to easily learn more about potential questions of interest.  For example, the zoning permit applications dataset contains all applications currently pending with the City.  Additional views have been created to show interested users the applications pending for 2013 only and to put the different applications on a map to readily see where the property in question is located.  Users are free to sort, manipulate, and organize the data as they would like to create their own views.

“BTVdata is a useful step in increasing the transparency surrounding the City’s finances,” said Chief Administrative Officer Bob Rusten. “I’m hopeful this will be a helpful tool for those in our community seeking to learn more about the City and its operations.  I offer special thanks to those across the City, particularly Scott Duckworth, whose hard work made this possible.”

“I’m excited about the launch of BTVdata and that the Fletcher Free Library will be hosting this weekend’s hackathon,” said Fletcher Free Library Director Rubi Simon.  “The library will serve as a perfect venue to leverage open data through 21st century technology to improve public access to City information.”

As the City moves forward with its trial open data effort, public feedback would be appreciated.  How easy is the site to use?  Are there other datasets you would like to see?  What datasets are most helpful for you?  Please share your thoughts at

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City Department: 
Mayor's Office