Community profiles, data visualizations, and you

Posted on 04/30/19 by Carla Casilli


More than likely you’ve already seen the new LA Counts redesign. If not, please take a tour around the site after finishing this blog post. A very brief history to set up this post: our initial launch in November of 2017 featured open data and data stories, and this new release further extends our commitment to open data and open source technology.

We relaunched in March 2019 with a full-on CKAN implementation and tweaked the site design. Among other modifications for version 2.0 of our homepage, we included a bubble graphic—a data visualization—that illustrates the data publishers that LA Counts harvests datasets from. This graphic serves two purposes: one, it allows visitors to quickly understand the amount of data that publishers we’re harvesting contribute to the site; and two, it also acts as a data visualization idea placeholder.

A data visualization idea placeholder? Let’s take a minute to unpack that. What is an idea placeholder doing on a working site? Good question and one that we’ve thought a lot about as we’ve built out this new version.

LA Counts is more than just a website that aggregates open data relevant to Los Angeles County, we’re also a community of practice—a community dedicated to using open data to ask, investigate, and explore significant issues for Los Angeles County. LA Counts strives to highlight open data and the open data work that’s happening in and around Los Angeles County. That’s why you’ll find Community Profiles on our site. If you’ve ever wondered who’s doing what with data here in the county, then these stories are custom made for you.

The LA Counts team is interested in knowing who our community members are, what they’re accomplishing, and how they’re doing it. Community Profiles ensure that not only do we know about these amazing individuals and efforts, but you and other community members do now, too. How do we do that? You help out by telling us who the key people are that the community ought to know. In practice that means that we reach out to talk to as many people doing interesting things with data as we can, asking them the same five questions about data and then putting those responses and ideas up on our site as Community Profile stories. Because we believe that searching for and finding the people doing interesting things with data in Los Angeles County ought to be just as easily discoverable as searching for and finding the open data about Los Angeles County.

Likewise, searching for and finding the work that people are doing with data visualization in Los Angeles County ought to be just as discoverable. Thus, the data visualization idea placeholder. So, while currently that idea placeholder holds a simple visualization of the data publishers found on LA Counts, eventually that same location will house visualizations created by our community. And that means you.

We have some plans for this space that involve specific datasets and important issues, but in the interim, if you have created a data visualization from an LA Counts dataset, send it our way: it may just end up on our homepage for all to marvel at and learn from.

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