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CivicApps is a open data / open source project sponsored by several Portland-area government agencies. Currently over 120 civic data sets are available, including geographic, 911, transit, streets, and parks data.

Data Wishlist

More data will be available in the future. Some things we might like to see are:

  • Street sweeping schedules; the City has only 3 sweepers for all of the residential streets in Portland, and strives to cover the entire City twice, maybe three times a year. This prevents the City from publishing a reliable schedule. The upcoming work to be performed is typically based on proximity to the current work being performed, so if the City were to use GPS technology to post where they are presently, one may infer the likelihood of service in their neighborhood. Other ideas?
  • DEQ data: pollution sources? hazard reports?
  • Garbage hauling schedules per hauler; given the popular need for these, the City of Portland is attempting to coordinate delivery of these by this fall for both garbage and recycling.
  • Willamette Bridges status, API query for Lowered, In-transition, Raised
  • Multnomah County Library catalog data — It's available through the WorldCat API. The basic API access is open to noncommercial use, but the more complex options require membership.
  • Parking meter zones, location, duration - Where is the closest 4HR parking spot? Where is the closest unmetered spot?

Access to source code

Interested in gaining access to the Drupal source code? Send an email to civicapps [at] bridgecitystudio [dot] com with a description of how you'd like to contribute to the project. Our current #1 priority is getting the project packaged for contribution to the project.

Feature and Requirements List

Listing of Features and Requirements

Data available outside of

Datasets to request, or scrape? - Serves as a bit of an extension to the wishlist

Interesting submission forms

Listed both as sources of interesting datasets to request access to and as potential endpoints for automated submission.

Top Needed Projects

  • Bug tracker for devs working on civic apps and related projects
    • Redmine instances?
    • Redmine projects for iPhone, Blackberry, Android versions of Citizen Reports
  • Automated download and processing of data zips for (see PYOD for a comprehensive Python implementation).
  • Mashups using's JSON+REST interface, eg food carts
  • improvements (Drupal)
    • interface design improvements
    • feeds for ideas, apps, datasets
    • tweetbot for new ideas, apps, datasets
    • voting on datasets for those who downloaded them; "silent" promotion to Apps Contributor status per CivicApps site, which allows for voting on datasets
    • wiki for each dataset, allowing for user documentation/observations
    • have each dataset node reflect latest update (timestamp) These can be found in the metadata documentation; for CoP data, this is "Last Dataset Update Date"; for Metro data, this is "Time period of content".
    • support display of multiple data formats per dataset, not separate entries
    • voting on wanted datasets that don't exist yet
    • document the dev process
    • add a wiki link (and/or redirect) to
  • City iPhone app
    • currently references city "dummy" http endpoints in place of city CRM
    • needs test harness, making easy for other cities to use/verify
  • City Blackberry app needs maintainer, bugs fixed
  • City Android app - in alpha testing, who wants to beta test? If interested, please contact Rick at: rick.nixon [at] PortlandOregon [dot] gov
  • more real-time data needed
  • low-hanging fruit data (Max's list here?)
  • public access to the svn repo for
  • policy efforts around opening data by default for new city projects/orgs
  • UI for non-technical folks to search/mashup the data
  • app store for CivicApps needed to accommodate submissions and/or other useful apps
  • city council meeting input - citizen voice
  • (metadata viewer of datasets)
  • dataviz tools for those w/o GIS tools (pdf of data overlays on maps)
  • RSS feeds for datasets, ideas, & apps
  • Twitter broadcasts of new datasets, ideas, & apps

Notes from CivicApps Meetup at Open Source Bridge 2010

Includes ideas for applications, improvements to the CivicApps website, requests for additional data sets from the city and more. See Civicapps notes page.

Meeting Minutes from CivicApps Ideas Discussion, May 27, 2010

Following are meeting minutes from the first Civic Ideas Discussion meeting, held Thursday, May 27th, in the Portland Building, from 6-8pm.


  • Darrick Wong, Ashutosh Sanzgiri, Mike Duwe, Jennifer Redman, Selena Deckelmann, Max Ogden, Audrey Eschright, Reid Beels, Edwin Knuth, Mark Anderson, Art Wells, Roy Martin, Chris Smith, Nick "Loki" Jacobsen
  • John Kim, Skip Newberry, Phillip Holmstrand, Steve Erickson, Tim McHugh, Mark Greinke, Rick Nixon, Joel Donaldson

Meeting format was an open discussion between CivicApps organizers, data providers and citizens to discuss issues, ideas, and datasets with CivicApps. To begin, each attendee introduced themselves and stated what they hoped to get out of the meeting, in addition to any specific issues or ideas they would like to discuss. After the introductions, a straw poll was taken to determine which particular issues and in what order the group wanted to discuss.

The candidate issues and topics, in order for discussion, included:

Datastore type ideas/apps, including PDXAPI, CivicApps Data Installer, and PDXTAGS

  • The important work surrounding the PDXAPI and Data Installer apps was discussed; these utilities avail accommodations for developers to provide more open access to the CivicApps datasets, most of which are shapefile formats requiring access and know-how to GIS tools to open and/or convert to other more standard formats.
  • The desire to push data to the City, instead of pulling government produced datasets was discussed; we need to explore possible synergies between private supplied datasets (non-government) and CivicApps data; Urban Edibles,, a community powered mapping of fruit trees was raised as an example.
  • Developers would like to know what other datasets exist from data providers.


  • Concerns surrounding the licensing was raised. It was felt much of the data, specifically the City of Portland's data, should have no license at all, in that, it was already in the public domain; CivicApps and the City would like to better understand which particular passages of the Terms of Use concern developers, and promised to work with the City Attorneys to address these concerns.
  • Licensing open data (via Terms of Use) is somewhat new to a number of the contributing agencies involved; TriMet really being the only exception. The various agencies invite specific input and continued refinement from the community

Data formats; challenges between GIS data (shapefiles) and more "open" standards

  • Challenges with access to GIS tools was discussed, unfamiliarity of shapefiles, how to consume and/or convert them, etc., was pointed out as a high barrier to overcome by developers. CivicApps explained the current formats as artifacts of the least amount of effort required by data providers in obtaining their "native" formats to their business. Ways of producing other formats was discussed briefly.
  • Developers need more information available regarding the structure and where to find tools to interpret the datasets.
  • CivicApps datasets are hard to explore and understand without the requisite GIS tools; a preview or example of the data table rows would help developers to better understand the type of information contained within the dataset. Examples of example row information are on
  • Data providers producing more datasets was deemed a more important priority than offering API access.
  • Multnomah county needs to get involved and provide datasets.

Driving more CivicApps participation with the community

  • CivicApps launched with a quick follow-on of regional participation in terms of early idea and app submissions. User comments and voting for submissions have remained elusive, however. User participation in terms of interacting with others in the form of comments and voting needs to be improved.
  • Reaching out more to bloggers in raising the awareness of CivicApps was suggested.
  • Automated tweets for new content additions and RSS feeds for new ideas and apps were suggested to help raise awareness and drive traffic back to the site.
  • The need to register on the CivicApps site versus the data formats as barriers to participation was briefly discussed. It was felt, while not ideal in having to register, the format of the datasets presented a very cumbersome barrier in using the data.
  • CivicApps needs better accommodations for citizen interactions on the site.
  • CivicApps expressed the desire for the website and overall program to become wholely citizen-owned; this would involve setting up the necessary infrastructure to improve citizen accessibility and involvment with the site, open sourcing of the website itself, etc., This group will proactively pursue this to explore and make happen. Some of the requirements identified included:
-- The need for for a public-facing issues/bug tracker was discussed; CivicApps has an Redmine instance that could be exported to other bug trackers.
-- a social CRM page was created during the meeting:
-- The need for a CivicApps email group was discussed as well; a CivicApps Google group was created at:
-- The need for a CivicApps subdomain to accommodate citizen admin and contributions was expressed as well.

Hacking candidate ideas (for upcoming CiviCode Day)

  • Although we didn't really get around to discussing this much prior to next Thursday, CiviCode Day, it was it was suggested the City identify the top 10 issues CivicApps would like to solve during the event. Likewise, the CivicApps community should identify the top 10 issues they would like to address/solve as well at the upcoming CiviCode Day hackathon.


  • There was a lot of interest in assisting the City with developing and debugging City applications, such as the iPhone app. There is certainly opportunity in leveraging citizen involvement in the current BlackBerry and Android platform efforts now underway. The group advised early involvement was preferred over later involvement in helping address some of the resource challenges.
  • We need to have recurring face-to-face meetings between citizen developers, data providers, and CivicApps.
  • There's an upcoming meetup, Open Gov West on June 16th, which will be sent to the CivicApps Google group.

Other issues / topics identified, but were not discussed included the following:

  • Real time data
  • Mobil access
  • Citizens for Clean Air effort
  • Data update schedules reflected for datasets
  • Better ways to bring data to the non-tech folks
  • Meet contacts / Recruit developers

External Links