What’s the most popular dog breed licensed in Louisville? Who’s the highest-paid city employee? Is that short-term rental in your neighborhood licensed?
Answers to these questions, and many more, can be found on Louisville’s Open Data website. Back in 2013, Mayor Greg Fischer issued an executive order directing city agencies to publish data sets that would otherwise be considered public records under Kentucky’s open records law.
The portal, managed by the city’s Office of Civic Innovation and Technology, contains far more than 200 data sets on everything from crime reports and 311 service requests to an interactive map of city parks and their amenities.
“The Louisville open data program increases transparency, accountability and accessibility,” Grace Simrall, head of Civic Innovation and Technology, said in the portal’s most recent annual report.
Residents, academics, researchers, community organizations and members of the media are common users of the site, which has logged more than 1 million page views in the last six years, according to the most recent published figures.
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Private entities have also mined the site for useful data. Most notably, Yelp pulls over restaurant health inspection scores to its users, while Waze uses data on planned road closures to keep its travel directions up to date.
“Everyone and anyone can tap into the data portal and use it,” said Andrew McKinney, data officer with the Office of Civic Innovation and Technology.
Louisville is not alone in collecting and publishing data. Cities from Los Angeles to Miami have similar portals. More than 50 US cities have been certified as “What Works Cities” by the nonprofit Bloomberg Philanthropies for their use of data ― Louisville and Los Angeles are the only two cities certified as “platinum.”
There are changes on the horizon for the open data portal. Current data will be migrated to a new portal that includes more charts and maps and other visualizations, as well as ideas on how users can review and interpret the data.
Zain Casey, senior data analyst, said the city has heard public recommendations on new data sets to add: 911 calls, police use of force incidents, homeless shelters and the services each offers.
In the meantime, here are five data sets found on the portal:
Employee salary data
One of the most frequently searched data sets published by the city is the list of Louisville Metro government employee salaries. Every person employed by the city since 2016 is listed in the database, along with their job titles, the city departments in which they work (or worked), their annual pay rate and any other pay received (like overtime or incentive pay).
The city’s police chief has been the highest-paid city employee in each of the last seven years. This year, Chief Erika Shields is expected to earn a little over $233,000.
Louisville Zoo Director Daniel Maloney is the next highest-paid employee at $189,000, followed by Public Health and Wellness Director Sarah Hill Hartlage at almost $167,000.
Five other members of the police department – all deputy chiefs or assistant police chiefs – are among the top-15 highest-paid city employees this year, the data show.
What about Major Greg Fischer? His annual rate this year is listed at around $131,000, which is not the highest in his office. Five others on his staff make more, the data show.
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Metro government expenditures
Speaking of tax dollars: You can see how much money city agencies spend each fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) and where that money is going.
Expenditures are broken down by department, category and sub-category, funding source, vendor name, invoice amount and check amount (some checks paid some or all of an invoice, or more than one invoice).
How much has the city spent on road salt and de-icing supplies in the current fiscal year? Checks written for invoices labeled under that category have topped $900,000.
What about demolition services? Checks labeled under that category totally slightly more than $1 million.
Another frequently searched data set shows more than 200,000 incidents reported to the Louisville Fire Department since 2017. Incidents are sorted by year on an interactive dashboard that also breaks them down by different categories like the type of incident or responding station.
As of early May, the department has reported more than 14,000 incidents. That’s an average of 117 a day, at a roughly similar pace to incident totals in each of the last five years.
About 60% of reported incidents so far this year have involved emergency medical services, the data show. And only about 1% were categorized as residential structure fires.
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311 service requests
You’re just about to call 311 to report a broken streetlight on your block and you think: I wonder if any of my neighbors have reported this issue in the past? The city’s data portal includes spreadsheets of 311 service requests stretching back to 1997.
You can see when and where the request was made, as well as a description. More than 68,000 requests have been logged from the start of this year through the end of April. Of the requests for which a “status” is listed, about 40% were considered “closed” or “completed” as of writing.
Thousands of ask for recycling carts, or for the city to stop illegal dumping requests or to clean up graffiti and tow abandoned cars, a well-publicized issue in Louisville.
“ABANDONED CAR TAKING UP VALUABLE PARKING FOR MONTHS NOW GET IT GONE,” one person commented in all caps from a Jan. 1 request, which is listed as “assigned.”
Animal tag data
Louisville pet owners are required by law to purchase a license for their pets, and the Department of Animal Services publishes data on every pet licensed in the city ― dogs, cats, pigs, ferrets and, apparently, one raccoon (licensed in 2020).
Unsurprisingly, dogs account for roughly 80% of the more than 82,000 pets licensed since 2018, data show.
Here are 10 of the most commonly licensed dog breeds in the city, according to the data:
- labrador retriever
- german shepherd
- short haired chihuahua
- Shih Tzu
- labrador retriever mix
- yorkshire terrier
- golden retriever
- mix breed
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Jonathan Bullington is an investigative reporter. Reach him at: 502-582-4241; JBullington@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @jrbullington.