The BLDS format represents a collaborative effort by civic technology companies, governments and other interested parties to create a shared data specification for building and construction permit data. This is part of a much broader effort to create shared standads for the open data being released by state, county and municipal governments.

Data standardization across governments is a critical milestones that must be realized to advance the open data movement to fully realize all of the potential benefits of openly publishing government data.

The Benefits of Data Standards

The best example of what is possible when governments publish open data that conforms to a specific standard is the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). Developed by Google in partnership with the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), GTFS is a data specification that is used by dozens of transit and transportation authorities across the country, and it has all of the qualities that open data advocates hope to replicate in other data standards for cities.

The GTFS standard is relatively easy to use – it’s a collection of zipped, comma-delimited text files. The wide availability and ease of use of GTFS data has spawned a cottage industry of transit applications in cities across the country and continues to be used as the bedrock set of information for transit app developers.

Here is a list of government open data standards that are currently in use and those under development:

Interested in helping out? Review the draft specification here, and join the discussion forum to add your thoughts and feedback.