BuildingBlocks/Open Data

The City of Lancaster will launch BuildingBlocks, a web-based mapping software that compiles property data into one easy-to-use application, to the public on Wednesday, May 1.

Through BuildingBlocks, users can see property information like code violations, issued building permits and rental registrations. In the past, this information was attainable only through public records requests.

One way that citizens can use the data available through BuildingBlocks is to make better informed decisions when renting. They can see whether a property has a rental license or open code violations before choosing to sign a lease agreement.

The tool is part of a greater objective of increasing transparency. Along with the release of BuildingBlocks, the City is also publishing a new open data policy. The policy establishes that the publication of open data will advance the City’s transparency and accountability, while maintaining the protection of privacy, confidentiality and security.

“Open and easy public access to data promotes a higher level of civic engagement, improves transparency, and fosters collaboration,” said Community Development Administrator Susannah Bartlett, who has spearheaded the adoption of BuildingBlocks.

Starting Wednesday, May 1, citizens can access BuildingBlocks, along with the new open data policy, links to publicly available GIS maps and existing public records request information at www.cityoflancasterpa.com/government/open-data.

Internally, BuildingBlocks enables City staff to more quickly access data from across departments to better monitor rental housing stock and safeguard at-risk properties. The data allows staff to take a more proactive approach towards improving housing conditions in the city.

“The ability to layer data block-by-block allows us to strategically focus our efforts on the places that need us most,” said Mayor Sorace.

BuildingBlocks is also being used in Pennsylvania cities like Pittsburgh, Chester, and Reading.