311 Requests Common Data Structure (Public)
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TitleStructural Analysis & Recommendations for Publicly Releasing 311 Request Data
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BackgroundMany jurisdictions operate call centers and online tools (collectively, "311") to allow their constituents to report conditions, request services, or obtain information. Public access to 311 request data provides excellent foundations for understanding quality of life, especially when combined with other data sources. Plenty of jurisdictions make their 311 service request data available for public consumption, but there is wide variation in terms of data structures and field names. This makes it particularly challenging to make recommendations to jurisdictions which are considering releasing their data for the first time. Worse, it makes it extremely challenging for people and organizations to aggregate data for inter-jurisdictional insight.
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AnalysisWe selected jurisdictions sharing 311 request data based upon searches from the US Cities Open Data Census and Socrata's opendatanetwork.com. For each jurisdiction's 311 requests, we collected the structure of their published data. Using metadata and their published data, we then mapped them as closely as possible into a standard model. In some cases we mapped multiple fields from a jurisdiction to the same compiled field, primarily when they were quite similar (for example date + time in one column and date only in another). Any fields which we found to be unique to a single jurisdiction we moved to the 'Other' category. This process allowed us to identify the most commonly published data elements across the jurisdictions.
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SynthesisBased upon our analysis, we then synthesized a recommended set of data elements for 311 request data. Since field/column names were vastly inconsistent across the jurisdictions, we reviewed Open311's service request data structure and used their naming conventions and descriptions where possible. We included recommended field names, descriptions, and other structural details.
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NoteAlthough we recommend using these naming conventions for the common 311 request data fields, jurisdictions should not feel inhibited from adding other fields which they think are valuable to their local community. In this case, we recommend following the naming convention of all lower case letters with words separated by underscores (_), e.g. "additional_field_name".
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ConclusionWe strongly encourage jurisdictions that are planning to release 311 request data (in bulk) to follow this recommended structure as much as possible. Doing so will reduce the friction for consumers and improve the scalability of 311 request data across the United States.
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Additional InfoOpen311: http://wiki.open311.org/GeoReport_v2/#get-service-request
Open311 GeoReport Tabular (in development): https://github.com/open311/georeport-tabular-data-package/blob/master/open311_georeport_tabular.json
US City Open Data Census (311 sources) http://us-city.census.okfn.org/dataset/service-requests
Socrata structure recommendation: https://github.com/open-data-standards/data-schemas/blob/gh-pages/schemas/Service_Connect.md
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Description
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