Collaborative Effort to Develop Building Permit Data Standard Announces Initial Release

July 15, 2015

A consortium of technology companies and civic software firms announced today the release of an open data specification for building permit data.

The Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS, pronounced "builds") version 1.0 provides a standardized format for jurisdictions to use when releasing information on building permits as open data.

The work to develop this standard is a part of a much larger effort in the civic technology community focused on developing shared standards for open data that can be adopted by any government that wishes to use them. To date, work has been done on standards for citizen service requests, transit data, park and trail data, restaurant inspection data and several other types of commonly used government data.

A growing number of municipalities have started publishing building permit data in the new BLDS format including San Diego County, CA, the City of Alameda, CA, Deschutes County, Oregon, Bernalillo County, NM, Chattanooga, TN, Tampa, FL, Seattle, WA, Ft. Worth, TX, Boston, MA and several others. A number of the organizations that participated in the initial development of the standard are interested in consuming municipal building permit data to enhance their offerings including Zillow, Buildfax, Buildzoom and Civic Insight.

"Developing a BLDS standard has been a major collaborative achievement," says Chris Metcalf, Developer Evangelist for Socrata. "There’s so much building and construction permit data out there, and, for so long, it’s been fairly localized. Now, everyone everywhere can gain insight and intelligence as a result of this new, accessible and easy-to-understand open standard."

"Building permit data can provide huge insights to those working to improve communities," said Mark Headd, a Developer Evangelist for Accela and former Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia. "Permit data can be used as a proxy for economic activity and allow for insights into how an upswing - or downturn - in the economy plays out at the community level. It might show the changing character of neighborhoods, and how gentrification is playing out in cities."

Contributors to version 1.0 of the BLDS data standard are Accela, BuildFax, Buildingeye, Civic Insight, DR-i-VE Decisions, SiteCompli, Socrata and Zillow. A number of other organizations have expressed interesting in helping to further develop the standard and are listed on the public website for the effort at

The details of the new data standard can be found on GitHub and anyone with a question or comment can open an issue or send a question.