Our Data is What You Make of It
Getting Started Using Mesa's Data
What you'll need
- An up-to-date web browser (Mesa's data portal is best experienced using Google Chrome)
- A question you're trying to answer about the City of Mesa
Let's give it a try! The following steps will show you how to filter data found in the dataset "Fire and Medical Incidents Dispatched in City of Mesa".
Open the "Fire and Medical Incidents Dispatched in City of Mesa" dataset in your web browser. This will take you to the dataset's Primer page. This page contains important information about the data such as the date it was last updated, a description of the dataset and it's columns, additional resources that use this dataset and a preview of the actual dataset.
- At the top of the screen, note the blue button "View Data". Note that there are also options here with buttons visualize the dataset; export the dataset to a file (such as CSV, Excel, XML, etc); view the API; share to social media; or contact the dataset owner.
- Click the blue button "View Data". This takes you into the dataset, which contains over 780,000 rows of incidents. This is a lot of data to sort through, so let's condense this to year's incidents only.
- Click on the "Filter" button located towards the top right of the screen. The Filter function allows you to narrow the search results into more manageable bits.
- Under "Filter this dataset based on contents", click the large button "Add a New Filter Condition". Then click on the words "Incident ID" and scroll down the list under "Select the column to filter by" until you find "Alarm Year", click to select it. Type in the the most current and press "Enter" or click on the box to the left to have the filter take affect. The data should now be filtered by incidents that match the Alarm Year you typed in. Note at the bottom that the number of rows should be something less than 780,000.
- You can now export this filtered dataset to Excel by clicking on the "Export" button located near the top right of the page.
Your key resource: Dataset Primer page
Data can be complex. Some datasets contain millions of records and many unfamiliar terms. Be sure to review a dataset’s Primer page for additional information about a dataset, including a description of columns. On the Primer page, you’ll also find definitions of terms and values.
Guidelines for the division of large datasets
In general, if you experience difficulty manipulating and downloading larger datasets, you should restrict the number of records that appear using the “filter” function. In this panel, users may “Add a New Filter Condition” and select attribute values that are exact matches with the “is” condition, or a fall within a range of values with the “contains” condition. A narrower selection of results will require less computing power to view and manipulate data, and will create smaller data files that are quicker to download onto a user’s local device. For more information on filtering tabular datasets, including video tutorials, see the “Filtering Datasets” topic in the Socrata Knowledge Base.
Mesa's data portal features a robust API from Socrata for all the data hosted here. Learn more about getting started using API's here.
Socrata APIs provide rich query functionality through the “Socrata Query Language” (SoQL), which borrows heavily from Structured Query Language (SQL) and should be familiar to developers who have worked with SQL and easy to learn for those who are new to it.
The “endpoint” of a SODA API is a unique URL that represents an object or collection of objects. Every Mesa dataset, and even every individual data record, has its own endpoint. The endpoint is what you’ll point your HTTP client at to interact with data resources.