3 innovative projects helping libraries drive civic data

October 11, 2014

Libraries help connect people to the open data revolution -- we've picked our three favorite projects from the most recent Knight News Challenge.

The latest Knight News Challenge focuses on libraries, and the submissions are in. Libraries have been delivering innovative services since Ben Franklin – more recently, that ranges from providing community wifi to lending digital music tools. Following our friends at OpenPlans, we’ve picked our three favorite projects that show how libraries can help connect people to the open data revolution.

#1: L.A. Drone Cartography Project

3D footage of LA’s landmarks, mashed up with hundreds of historic and real-time datasets – what’s not to love? Drones are still on the fun side of civic tech – and are quickly becoming usable tools. The USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and the USC Libraries are teaming up to make drone mapping easier and more accessible. By bringing in historical information and up-to-date civic data, they’re also adding the context you’ll need to visualize local change.

#2: Boston libraries teach open civic data

The open data revolution is going strong. But as William Gibson famously said, the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. The Chief Information Officer at the City of Boston wants to change that by making open data more approachable. This project has two phases that play to the strengths of the Boston Public Library: cataloging the open data available and hosting open public classes and workshops.

#3: Editable, historic map of NYC

The NYPL makes groundbreaking geodata crowdsourcing tools. With their Building Inspector tool, you can help them digitize old building footprints, add addresses, do quality control, and more. The Map Warper lets you match up maps from their expansive historic collections with modern-day plans. And now, with this proposal, they’re bringing it all together, building a Google Maps for historic data. We’re geeked.

The NYPL's crowdsourced building inspector app.