In my last post I mentioned a talk I gave about my work for berlinonline on the Berlin Data Portal. Several months have passed since then (so quickly!), and yesterday we were finally able to launch the portal’s new version at daten.berlin.de (aka “Offene Daten Berlin”)!

Compared to the upheaval in the open data community that the launch of the federal German data portal caused, the re-launch of the Berlin portal went rather quietly so far. This is probably because, from an Open Data point of view, not so much has changed – by far the most datasets still use Creative Commons licenses, and the number of datasets has grown steadily since the portal’s launch in 2011. Also, and this is probably even more important, the number of departments from the Berlin administration participating in the city’s Open Data initiative has grown as well.

The most obvious changes coming with the relaunch are cosmetic – they are, however, pretty drastic: there has been a complete change of the portal’s layout to suit the new (future) design of city’s berlin.de site. Offene Daten Berlin is one of the first parts of berlin.de that showcase the reboot of the layout; the only other part of the site that has already implemented the new layout is the citizen’s service portal service.berlin.de. I believe the new design (which was not developed by me – I only implemented it for the portal) is a lot cleaner, more user-friendly and just overall gives a much more pleasant user experience than the old one.

There are, however, a good few changes under the hood as well:

  • The (non-public) backend of the portal is based on the brilliant CKAN platform, for which we completely redeveloped a Berlin-specific plugin from scratch.
  • Quite a bit of work also went into maintenance-related inner workings of the (Drupal-based) portal – not something that a regular user will easily notice, of course, but these are things that make administrating and moderating the site much smoother.
  • daten.berlin.de is now integrated into a much larger, Germany-wide Open Data ecosystem: upstream to the federal govdata.de, and downstream from the Open Data portal of Berlin’s energy provider Stromnetz Berlin GmbH (a subsidiary of Vattenfall) at netzdaten-berlin.de (more local portals might follow). This has been made possible quite painlessly with CKAN’s harvester infrastructure.
  • Last but not least, the new portal also comes with a significant increase in available data in general. The largest and latest addition of course comes from the Stromnetz Berlin data (there is a hackday specifically targeted at this data this weekend), but also other data from the local public transport providers VBB has recently been made available through daten.berlin.de, and many other quite interesting datasets as well.

In the future, I will start looking in more detail at some these datasets, maybe in the form of a series of blog posts à la “dataset of the month”, where I will explore and highlight what particular datasets have to offer, what they might be used for, how they might be combined with other data, etc.

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