AxisPhilly Uses Data to Connect Citizens to Their Government

Open data encourages transparency and engagement.

A new website is pushing open government to the next level in Philadelphia. AxisPhilly, launched this year after receiving a grant from the William Penn Foundation, is pioneering a new type of media that Technically Philly calls data journalism. In The Data Journalism Handbook, Paul Bradshaw offers a concise description of what to expect from this type of news:

What makes data journalism different to the rest of journalism? Perhaps it is the new possibilities that open up when you combine the traditional ‘nose for news’ and ability to tell a compelling story, with the sheer scale and range of digital information now available.

And those possibilities can come at any stage of the journalist’s process: using programming to automate the process of gathering and combining information from local government, police, and other civic sources, as Adrian Holovaty did with ChicagoCrime and then EveryBlock.

Read more here.

AxisPhilly is focused squarely on connecting the citizens of Philadelphia with public services, and the site will rely heavily on open data for reporting. After launching in February of this year, CEO Neil Budde posted this introduction:

At AxisPhilly, we plan to go deep on issues, providing original and curated reporting, data analysis and interactive tools to help you understand the issues as well as forums for you to explore possible solutions. We will tackle issues that are profound as well as prosaic (though crucial to city life).

Our goal is to provide more context, not just more content. We will be less about breaking news and more about news that breaks through. News that breaks through the clutter, tools that break through to understanding, conversation that breaks through to action.

Read more here.

A look inside their Tools & Data section reveals extensive data about the city, especially information about crimes. In addition to linking to other data sets provided by the city government, AxisPhilly has created tools to help readers interact with data in their location. Use AxisPhilly’s crime-data tool to view changes in crime in each neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Axis Philly

But not all of the data is quite so serious. OpenDataPhilly, another resource that can be accessed on the Tools & Data page, points residents to local happy hours, farmers markets and bicycle commuter routes.

Check out AxisPhilly to learn more, and take a look at our infographic that illustrates how governments are connecting with citizens on their mobile devices.

<p>iStockphoto/Thinkstock</p>
Feb 07 2013