Date Category Blog Tags Rant

You don't have to spend long looking for a graph or dashboard visualizing any of the extensive list of data sources from any major cities open data portal. In fact my first tableau dashboard was a look at crime in Chicago. You can probably find hundreds of graph visualizing Chicagos crime.

While trying to find my own path I thought, everyone makes things about Chicago, Boston and New York. For good reasons, these datasets are usually huge and packed with tons of information, and most important easy to find. For example the Chicago crime data has all reported crimes from 2001-present day. that's 6,468,080 x 22 columns of information whereas OpenPVD only keeps the past 180 days which is 13,533 x 10 columns. It can be hard to show trends or changes when the most you have to work with is half a year. I'm sure you can FOIA older data from the Providence Police, but the purpose of Open Data is that you shouldn't have too.

When I made my Warwick dui graphic I became hooked on using RI data. Not because it's packed with information, definitely not because it's easy to find but because it was relatable. I found myself not only enjoying every minute of making it, but craving more local projects and data sets to play around with.

Finding RI data can be quite challenging. County level data is pretty pointless and just looks dull and boring. The only city with an official data portal is Providence, though lately it seems to have slowed down in adding new information. The states Transparency Portal is mostly outdated except for a few of the sources.

Not having a endless stream of easily accessible data isn't always a negative though. I had to find my own solutions, for example RIGIS has a extensive list of useful shapefiles however for municipal layers they only have towns and cities, I was looking for neighborhood segments of Warwick so I took the TIGERS census tracts but because they stretch over water and look horrible to map I cut it to the RIGIS shapefile to get what I needed. Dealing with the messy data of Rhode Island is how I taught myself excel, pulling data from pdfs or pulling it from a website usually requires some TLC afterwards.

Being such a small state I feel Rhode Island has a unique opportunity to lead in open data. Consolidate all Open Data sources in 1 location instead of scattered across agency websites would be a good start. However it doesn't appear that will happen anytime soon. Open Data and Transparency seemed to have a good kick start under Chafee but died off with his exit as governor.

Division of Motor Vehicles Last updated: 03/2017

The only regularly updated one was the DMV wait times, that is untill the wait times started to sky rocket and they stopped updating it.


Department of Health Last updated: 02/2015


State Police Last updated: 05/2015