Guidelines for Using Open Baltimore Data

Update: 2020-January

General

The current vendor used to host Baltimore’s Open Data is Socrata. The best source of how-to videos or step-by-step recipes to get and use data are off the internet. Consider key word searches such as:

Socrata “open data”
Socrata “open data” download
Socrata “open data” api

I. See Dashboards
To date, the site has only been conducive to tech-savvy users to use data. In 2019-2020, we are starting to create dashboards and views to help make data visible for non-technical users. Dashboards/views are visible from the main menu:

Main menu

II. See Pre-Established Views
The site allows both the City and end-user residents to create views and reports on data. Existing reports can be seen by clicking a large block from the main page.
Example: Click City Government:

City Government icon

Then, it is critical to decide of you want to see City-created views, views by end-users, or both. In the upper left one selects ‘Official’ for City-created views, ‘Community’ for end-user created. The default is that one sees both types of views mixed. This can be confusing, as there is no quality control on views – some views are nonsensical. (One task in 2020 is to par down user-created views that are old/defunct).

Menu

The below sections are a crib sheet for creating


was originally conducive to user

III. Do a Manual One-Time Export

Get to a desired dataset by any means: do a search, or click from the start.
Example: Under City Government:

City Government icon

Click on a City salaries dataset:

City salaries dataset

In the upper right, pick ‘Export’

Exporting data

And from here, you can pick your format (suggest csv), name the file, etc.

Export format selection

IV. Use an API to Embed Ongoing Data Pulls into Your Application

One can embed an API call to pull an OpenBaltimore dataset directly into one’s application or software platform of choice (i.e. javascript, java, R, python, SAS, etc). This inevitably requires some trial and error to get the process to work. Given your language or application, the trick is to find examples on the web to copy.

Example: Get Open Baltimore bike lanes data into a table using javascript

  1. Search/find data you need (e.g. Bike Lanes)
    Open Baltimore website front page
     
  2. Click Bike Lanes in next screen ( make sure to click ‘dataset’ and not a view)
    Bike lanes screen
     
  3. Select API and click to copy the API EndPoint ( You can also select API Docs to learn more about using this specific API)
    Bike lanes output
     
  4. We Encourage you to look at the API Docs
    e.g. API Docs for Bike Lanes( https://dev.socrata.com/foundry/data.baltimorecity.gov/xzfj-gyms)
     
  5. We used JS to fetch the data from the API and build a basic HTML table. See code bellow:
    JS code
     
  6. Here is the Bike Lanes HTML table:
    HTML table
(Click images for larger versions where applicable)