City Recognizes International Open Data Day with Open Data Challenge

Published on March 03, 2023


In celebration of International Open Data Day on March 5, Mayor Ben Walsh and the Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation (API) announced the City’s first Syracuse Data Challenge. The Syracuse Data Challenge is a month-long contest for members of the community with an interest in open data for the public good. The Syracuse Data Challenge asks residents to creatively use datasets from the city’s open data portal to build a data visualization, website application, data analysis, map, chatbot, or any other type of project that uses the featured data. 

The data challenge begins on Thursday March 2 and closes Friday March 31 at midnight.

“I’m excited to see us collaborate with city residents in finding new ways to use our open data portal,” said Mayor Ben Walsh. “Our API Office is leading the way in sharing public data and encouraging citizens to engage with it in responsible and innovative ways.”

The City hopes the data challenge will continue to drive awareness and engagement of newly available datasets on the open data portal at The winner will receive a $25 gift card to a local diner sponsored by Syracuse Salesforce Developers.  More importantly, the winner will be recognized by having their work featured in the ‘Projects’ section of the open data portal and will be invited to sign the Innovator’s Wall at the API Office in City Hall.

Anyone can take part in the Syracuse Data Challenge. To receive the prize, the winning project owner must live in the city of Syracuse. The featured dataset for the first challenge is Syracuse Public Art. More information on the Syracuse Data Challenge can be found at

A Data-Informed Culture

The City of Syracuse has made data an integral part of their service delivery and program evaluation. In 2021, What Works Cities awarded the City of Syracuse a Silver Certification. What Works Cities Certification recognizes and celebrates local governments for their exceptional use of data to inform policy and funding decisions, improve services, create operational efficiencies, and engage residents.

Over the past year, the City has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the City’s use of data include:

  • Improving the efficiency of the City’s snow removal process
  • Building equity metrics into road reconstruction prioritization
  • Publishing an American Rescue Plan Act Online Dashboard
  • Using data to identify strategies and policies around digital empowerment
  • Redesigning SYRCityLine, the City’s service request management portal, to improve resident engagement and track quality of service delivery
  • Launching a smart streetlight network that collects data on performance and improves service and maintenance
  • Establishing a data governance committee to standardize processes for data management and publishing open data

Data has also been critical to tracking performance, driving innovation, expanding transparency, and building public trust. “This is why we are aiming to build a culture where every single department treats their data as one of their key assets. We are investing in our underlying infrastructure and building appropriate governance policies to responsibly manage city data,” said Chief Innovation and Data Officer, Nicolas Diaz. “Open data is a critical piece to this strategy. It makes key information accessible and recruits the public in this quest.”

Since 2017, the open data portal has served as the City’s central location for accessing, visualizing, and interacting with the City’s open datasets. Open data portal visitors navigate through about 20 pages of data on the site with each visit, adding up to approximately 47,000 page views in 2022. The API Office has engaged with community members wanting to build their own innovative tools or run their own analysis. As web traffic to the open data portal increases visitors are proactively requesting more datasets and helping the city stay on top of existing ones.

Recent data releases include:

  • SYRCityline Requests from 2021 to Q1 of 2023 which are generated by constituents using the City’s service request mobile app. This app is powered by SeeClickFix.
  • Permit Requests filed with the Central Permit Office which includes all building permits issued in the City of Syracuse. The data details the location, type of permits, and cost of project.
  • Parking Violations issued by the City of Syracuse from 2007 to 2022 totaling to more than 1 million records.
  • Recreation data which is a new deep-dive page focusing on public recreational activities in Syracuse.

Popular data sets from the open data portal include:

  • Tomorrow's Neighborhood Today boundaries in the City of Syracuse
  • The City Parcel dataset from 2017
  • Confirmed water main breaks

The City added 29 new datasets to the open data portal in 2022 and 2023. The API team has received 24 requests from the community to add more datasets and continues to highlight community projects built using open data from the city.