Last year, Cities named ten of its favorite metro datasets of 2011 from cities across North America, illustrating the breadth of what we might learn (regarding mosquito traps! misplaced vehicles! energy consumption!) in the still relatively young field of urban open data. For this year's installment, we're going one step further. Sure, raw data is great. But useful tools, maps and data visualizations built with said data are even better.
Below, you'll find our picks for 2012's best open data releases from municipal vaults, with an emphasis on tools that can be used by anyone, not just developers and data geeks. If we missed your favorite, please add it in the comments.
1. Crime in Philadelphia. Philadelphia snuck onto our 2012 list just under the wire,publishing last week a big data set on all major crimes in the city dating back to January 1, 2006. The data is now updated daily, covering incidents of homicide, rape, robbery, assault and theft. Philadelphia now joins Chicago, which released 10 years of crime data last year. Baltimore has a similar dataset. For Philadelphians more interested in live trends than historic ones, the city is now also mapping recent crimes (see the above graphic). A smart bonus feature: when you click on an individual incident, the map gives you an opportunity to "submit a tip" to the Philadelphia Police Department.