History of OpenDataVote

In 2011, the OpenDataPhilly project team launched a public awareness campaign similar to OpenDataVote in order to encourage the City of Philadelphia to release more data sets that could potentially serve the nonprofit community. The effort was quite successful - it attracted more attention to the community-driven open data effort in Philadelphia and many of the nominated data sets have been released in the years since then. Read more about the previous effort…

A lot has changed since 2011. The City of Philadelphia now has a Chief Data Officer, open data is now part of the City’s policy, and there is an active staff supporting the initiative. Open Data Philly has grown from about 100 data sets to almost 350, and open data is being used in many locations across the region.

The OpenDataPhilly project team was encouraged by these successes and decided to launch a similar public awareness campaign in 2017. OpenDataVote in Philadelphia engaged about two dozen nonprofit organizations and gathered over 2,500 votes from the public. The City of Philadelphia is coordinating with the participating nonprofit organizations to publish the data on OpenDataPhilly.

We're working with other cities to organize OpenDataVote around the country in 2018. Read the Guide to learn more about how to run OpenDataVote in your city and reach out to us to let us know you're interested!

2017 OpenDataVote in Philadelphia

In 2017, Azavea partnered with Tech Impact, Technical.ly Media, Generocity, Code for Philly, the City of Philadelphia Office of Open Data & Digital Transformation, the Penn Library, and others to run OpenDataVote, a chance a nonprofits and the public to advocate for open data in Philadelphia.


1st Place: MicroSociety

Data: Donors to the Philadelphia School district
MicroSociety plans to help the school district align its supporters behind district goals by helping donors and other partners that have expertise in relevant fields understand areas where they can maximize their impact.

2nd Place: Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation

Data: Public Housing and City-Subsidized Housing Program Beneficiaries
This organization plans to use the data to advocate for fair housing for the immigrant & English Language Learner (ELL) population in Philly.

3rd Place: Philadelphia Horticultural Society

Data: Street Rights-of-Way
PHS plans to use the data to drive planting decisions & planning to streamline the street tree approval and planting process for Tree Tenders and the city’s street tree office. This will support the Tree Tenders/Plant One Million street tree planting, a partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department.

Special Recognition: Community Legal Services

Data: Water Department Lead Service Lines
This group lead voting for the first weeks of the voting period. The Advisory Board decided to recognize this organization for their advocacy for open data for the benefit of the community. The release of this data would facilitate counseling families by Community Legal Services regarding potential risk of lead exposure from water service lines and connecting families to resources to prevent potential lead exposure.


Thanks to donations from the Knight Foundation and ReedTech, $8,000 in prizes were awarded to the winning organizations.

Tech Impact donated staff time and organized sponsor outreach. Azavea sponsored the time of lead organizers Dan Ford and Robert Cheetham, in addition to providing funds for supplies, outreach materials, and the voting platform.


The City of Philadelphia Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation is focusing their efforts on data sets that received the most votes from the public during OpenDataVote.

The 2017 OpenDataVote in Philadelphia was nominated for Partnership of the Year in the Philly Geek Awards.

In the News

“OpenDataVote just launched. Here’s why nonprofits should care”
via Generocity

“Now it’s your turn to choose what datasets the city should release”
via Technical.ly Philly

“OpenDataVote nominated for 2017 Partnership of the Year in the Philly Geek Awards”
via Technical.ly Media & Geekadelphia

“These Advocates Want to Make Sure Our Data Doesn’t Disappear”
via PC Mag

“How nonprofits are using data from OpenDataVote to ‘start a conversation’ about systemic change”
via Generocity