Blog Post

Open Data Day 2018 Outcomes

Open Data Day 2018 Outcomes

The event attracted 93 participants. The event started with a presentation from our sponsors: City of Denton, City of Lewisville, Stoke, and UNT College of Information. Then we presented a list of challenges to participants. Each participant joined a team, with the goal of trying to solve the challenge within 5-6 hours by providing a proof of concept or developing a minimum viable product. We ended the day with a total of six teams, and all teams presented on the day’s work during the showcase at the end of the day.

Project 1: Identifying road conditions using city open data maps and photos

Team 1 used machine learning algorithms to recognize City of Lewisville street features. The team used machine learning system and used more than 4,000 pictures. They manage to identified manholes and with 98% accuracy, and to recognize street asphalt and concrete cracks in the roads with 86% accuracy. This accuracy level can be improved. The team believe they can also use the available map data to provide information on road condition like potholes with extra measures using elevations and geotagging, as well as provide more precise location details for manholes than is currently available. This can help the city better plan their maintenance based on the road conditions without paying for additional street surveys. It can also help prioritize the budget based on street conditions. These data combined with other sensors can help the city improve their underground utility mapping with much higher accuracy and confidence level.

Team 1 presents some images of roads used to train the machine learning system.

Project 2: Improving services to the homeless

Team 2 worked with the United Way of Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team . The Homelessness Leadership Team’s mission is to help nonprofit organizations in Denton to provide better services to homelessness and underserved population. Team 2 provided the collation with two solutions. First, they presented on a short term solution that aggregates data from multiple resources using online Google Sheets API to automate some of the coalition required data collection and reporting. According to one United Way representative, this short term solution could save the organization about 30 hours a month or about 20% of her time per year. The team also presented a proposal for a long term solution to build an online web based application the automate the process and provide dynamic reports.

Team 2, including one representative from the Homelessness Leadership team, present on their findings.

Project 3: City of Denton website chatbot

Team 3 built a chatbot for City of Denton website. This proof of concept was built from scratch during the event. Using natural language processing and reading website search history the bot can give satisfactory results. In the demo, the chatbot could answer general questions. The sample website visitor asked the chatbot to find his city council representative. The chatbot asked for the user’s address and was then able to provide the correct council member’s name. The chatbot can help answers residents’ questions or find the right information faster than a website visitor can navigate through the city website. The bot can also guide users to help them navigate the website faster. This can significantly reduce the time to find information on the city website and increase residents’ satisfaction.

A screen capture of the chatbot demo on a City of Denton website.

Project 4: Visualizing city budget data

Team 4 presented a visualization of City of Lewisville’s budget for the past twelve years. It showed expenditure and revenue per department or business unit. The visualization allowed users to compare expenditure between departments and drill down to see spending per account in every department. The visualization is publicly available through Tableau public portal.!/vizhome/LewisvilleBudgetVisualization2012-2017/RETrend

A graph shows a comparison of spending by City of Lewisville’s Police and Fire departments from 2012-2018.

Project 5: City of Denton Open Data Portal instructional videos

Team 5 was our technical writing and creative team. Last year, the team created the first introductory instructional video for using the City of Denton Open Data Portal. This year, they continued their creative work with two videos. The first demonstrates a step-by-step guide on locating rent prices in the City of Denton. This data can be used by residents, researchers, or prospective newcomers to the city to compare rental prices over time or with other cities in Texas. The second video is still work in progress and will be completed shortly. It will demonstrate how to use the City of Denton strategic measures data page to track specific topics of interest to Denton residents. It also shows how to track city metrics over certain time periods. Strategic measure are powerful tool for residents and journalist to track city performance and become better informed about their city achievements.

Team member Suzi Townsdin demonstrates the demo video.

Project 6: Bicyclist and Pedestrian Data

Team 6 worked on aggregating bicyclist and pedestrian data using the City of Denton’s two permanent bike and pedestrian usage counters on the Denton Branch Rail Trail. Team six also included the temporary “tube” counters to evaluate bike lane usage on streets like Eagle St. The team harvested and aggregate these data into the Open Denton GitHub repository. The next step is to make it available on the City of Denton Open Data Portal and perform year to year comparisons to check utilization level. Also, the team would like to analyze the utilization relation with weather conditions.

Screenshot of the Bike and Pedestrian counter data repository on the Open Denton GitHub account.


This year, TechMill, one of Denton Open Data Day’s sponsors, presented an introductory workshop on how to use Github that provided a hands on experience for students and participants in the non-technical groups. This 1.5 hour workshop introduced participants to Git, version control, account setup, and more.

Dan Minshew from TechMill stands at a podium preparing to teach Git and Github for Beginners.

We wrapped up Denton Open Data Day 2018 having made some excellent headway into a number of exciting projects. Registration for the event was almost doubled from last year’s participation, and we have plans to host another similar event in October of this year. We were very excited that the City of Lewisville joined the City of Denton in sponsoring our event and in providing data for our developers to work with, and we hope this is a trend that continues going forward. With this spirit openness and transparency, we can foster trust between residents and public officials, increase civic engagement, and work together to build smarter, data-driven policies to ensure a brighter future for us all.