Civic Data Initiatives

Burak Arikan at Medium: “Big data is the term used to define the perpetual and massive data gathered by corporations and governments on consumers and citizens. When the subject of data is not necessarily individuals but governments and companies themselves, we can call it civic data, and when systematically generated in large amounts, civic big data. Increasingly, a new generation of initiatives are generating and organizing structured data on particular societal issues from human rights violations, to auditing government budgets, from labor crimes to climate justice.

These civic data initiatives diverge from the traditional civil society organizations in their outcomes,that they don’t just publish their research as reports, but also open it to the public as a database.Civic data initiatives are quite different in their data work than international non-governmental organizations such as UN, OECD, World Bank and other similar bodies. Such organizations track social, economical, political conditions of countries and concentrate upon producing general statistical data, whereas civic data initiatives aim to produce actionable data on issues that impact individuals directly. The change in the GDP value of a country is useless for people struggling for free transportation in their city. Incarceration rate of a country does not help the struggle of the imprisoned journalists. Corruption indicators may serve as a parameter in a country’s credit score, but does not help to resolve monopolization created with public procurement. Carbon emission statistics do not prevent the energy deals between corrupt governments that destroy the nature in their region.

Needless to say, civic data initiatives also differ from governmental institutions, which are reluctant to share any more that they are legally obligated to. Many governments in the world simply dump scanned hardcopies of documents on official websites instead of releasing machine-readable data, which prevents systematic auditing of government activities.Civic data initiatives, on the other hand, make it a priority to structure and release their data in formats that are both accessible and queryable.

Civic data initiatives also deviate from general purpose information commons such as Wikipedia. Because they consistently engage with problems, closely watch a particular societal issue, make frequent updates,even record from the field to generate and organize highly granular data about the matter….

Several civic data initiatives generate data on variety of issues at different geographies, scopes, and scales. The non-exhaustive list below have information on founders, data sources, and financial support. It is sorted according to each initiative’s founding year. Please send your suggestions to contact at See more detailed information and updates on the spreadsheet of civic data initiatives.

Open Secrets tracks data about the money flow in the US government, so it becomes more accessible for journalists, researchers, and advocates.Founded as a non-profit in 1983 by Center for Responsive Politics, gets support from variety of institutions.

PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. Uses on-the-record interviews as its data source. Founded in 2007 as a non-profit organization by Tampa Bay Times. Supported by Democracy Fund, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, FordFoundation, Knight Foundation, Craigslist Charitable Fund, and the CollinsCenter for Public Policy…..

La Fabrique de La loi (The Law Factory) maps issues of local-regional socio-economic development, public investments, and ecology in France.Started in 2014, the project builds a database by tracking bills from government sources, provides a search engine as well as an API. The partners of the project are CEE Sciences Po, médialab Sciences Po, RegardsCitoyens, and Density Design.

Mapping Media Freedom identifies threats, violations and limitations faced by members of the press throughout European Union member states,candidates for entry and neighbouring countries. Initiated by Index onCensorship and European Commission in 2004, the project…(More)”