Census Bureau’s CitySDK Showcased at Uber Hackathon to Drive Data Innovation


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Graphic of U.S. Census Bureau City Software Development Kit (CitySDK)
Graphic of U.S. Census Bureau City Software Development Kit (CitySDK)

Guest blog post by Jeff Meisel, Chief Marketing Officer, U.S. Census Bureau

Since the U.S. Census Bureau launched its open API (application programming interface) in 2012, we have listened to developer feedback and continued to make improvements to the tool. Our latest update, the City Software Development Kit, is expanding as this tool continues to help developers use the data available in the API to create even more powerful apps for the public. The CitySDK has been used at hackathon events across the country and most recently was showcased at the Uber “Hack the Last Mile” event this past weekend in Washington, D.C. 

The Census Bureau launched the CitySDK last year to provide a user-friendly “toolbox” for developers to connect local and national public data. Developers are using data available through the CitySDK to understand commuting habits, socioeconomic patterns on housing and employment, and where to target and anticipate community services and resources. Now we are working with government and industry partners to make this open-source product even more accessible. The project has helped to streamline the creation of open data apps for cities and communities across the country and makes it easier for developers to search data variables and mesh different datasets together.

Developers began using the CitySDK as part of a National Day of Civic Hacking challenge last summer to build apps that addressed a sustainability issue facing a city. The finalists were highlighted in a webinar. Since then, the Census Bureau has participated in several hackathons to introduce developers to the CitySDK. We have found that the CitySDK is reducing development time tenfold for new users. 

The Census Bureau is continuing to work with developers to highlight how the CitySDK can help them harness the power of Census Bureau and government statistics to build apps that solve real-world problems. This past weekend, Uber’s D.C. office hosted a “Hack the Last Mile” event focused on addressing the needs of all citizens in the community. The U.S. Department of Transportation and Deloitte were co-sponsors, with dataset and tools support provided by the Census Bureau, Commerce Data Service, Housing and Urban Development and Socrata. The event concluded Feb. 28 with over 200 registrants, and nine teams presenting their demos that combined the Uber API with open government data. The winning team was called Project Happy Home and focused on the intersection of housing and transportation needs to support upward mobility. In the coming months, the team plans to build their prototype into an actual product.

Over the next year, the CitySDK will be an increasingly important component in providing an ecosystem of data from the federal government to address social good and smart city applications. The CitySDK is featured in the National Action Plan for Open Government and will be available for cities participating in the Global City Teams Challenge, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Mayors, CIOs and local leaders from across the country are encouraged to partner with the Census Bureau and participating agencies on this important data initiative. For more information, visit the Census Bureau’s GitHub page or contact Jeff Meisel

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Last updated: 2016-03-01 13:05

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