Online Program

Open data informatics strategies

Monday, November 2, 2015

Matthew Roberts, MPH, Office of Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics, Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Cristal Simmons, MPH, Office of Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics, Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago, IL
The open data movement is accelerating public sector transparency and sparking innovation.  Chicago’s open data movement has translated to increased access to governmental data while also enabling the development of new applications, analyses, and collaboration on strategic plans.


Chicago’s Open Data Portal contains approximately 48 public health datasets varying in size, scope, and purpose.  Each provides a glimpse into the health department’s operations, further illustrating public health activities and performance, in some instances close to real time.  Publishing data has reduced the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Freedom of Information requests dramatically (from a peak of 1796 in 2012 to 29 in 2014).

The publishing of this data has led to the development of web-based and mobile applications including the Chicago Health Atlas, Flu Shot Finder, Back to School Immunizations, Foodborne Chicago, and the Condom Finder.  Each of these has been built not by the health department, but through existing and new partnerships. 

Posting the data in real time has also expanded the availability for external collaboration in developing complicated analyses, such as that provided through our predictive models for foodborne inspections. 

Lessons Learned

Open data movements require governance, procedures, executive support, and technical statistical support, since some public health program staff lack data analysis skill.


Prioritize the release of data based upon current reporting burden (e.g. regularly requested FOIA documents), then target datasets for release that would have greatest value being placed into the public domain.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Communication and informatics
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
Describe the City of Chicago's Open Data platform and the health department's activities in leveraging open data to improve public health practice.

Keyword(s): Information Technology, Public Health Infrastructure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have supervised the collection and publishing of statistical datasets for public use on the open data portal. My research interests include organizing public health data to improve public health operations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.