On Monday Minneapolis announced the official launch of its long-awaited open data portal. Open data nerds, journalists, and curious citizens are now welcome to pick through raw data capable of illuminating almost every aspect of life in the City of Lakes.
The city released data about crime, fires, licensing, air quality, trees, 311 calls -- the list goes on, and it's due to get bigger. A press release noted the portal is "meant to make the most frequently requested and most useful data easily accessible, and more content will be added over time."
Unfortunately, right now the portal is hard to use, full of bugs, and completely unreliable. It's basically worthless.
This is a sorted and filtered list of all fires on Nicollet Avenue in 2014 from the new open data portal! pic.twitter.com/HPUjiPuszK— Tony Webster (@webster) December 9, 2014
"I am thrilled about the cultural change at City Hall and that they realize the value of opening up data, but I'm very disappointed by the vendor choice, specifically on the portal. It's not operational by any means," said open data advocate Tony Webster.
Webster, a software developer, said most of the problems stem from selecting Esri to build the portal, rather than Socrata.
Socrata already runs open data websites for New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many other governments around the world.
In response to a request to speak with Minneapolis Chief Information Officer Otto Doll about problems, the city issued a statement:
"We are glad that people are so interested in the City's new open data portal. Unfortunately, we are experiencing some bugs with the launch. City staff is currently working with the vendor to get them resolved as quickly as possible."
The city has taken down several of the more problematic pages since Monday's launch.