Getting Started for Consumers

Welcome to the City of Virginia Beach Open Data toolkit , your resource for working with and understanding data published by the City of Virginia Beach at The Toolkit provides a wealth of guidance, how to guides, and examples for both publishers and users of data.

Data Consumers  

In an increasingly connected and digital world everyone is a data consumer,from the general public and community groups to researchers and small businesses.

The exists to help you to easily discover, explore, and visualize data from all over The City of Virginia Beach. The reasons you need data can be varied, as you might need data as part of a report you’re preparing, to provide input into a business decision, or simply to plan a trip. Through a range of powerful data visualization tools, you’ll be able to explore data without the need to install or learn the sorts of complex software packages that used to be required to work with data.

Navigating the wealth of data available from department levels within Virginia Beach can be daunting. We’ve put together a range of resources to give you a helping hand in your quest for the right data set and if you can’t find what you’re after assistance is always only an email away.

In using data, you’ll need to have an understanding of the nature, limitations, and origins of the data that you’re making use of. You’ll be responsible for understanding the licensing terms applied to data, and confirming that your use, commercial or personal, is in line with the attribution and use requirements of the City departments who published it.

As a data consumer, you’ll also benefit from the sum of all the other parts of the data life cycle. City data creators and publishers produce raw data and information and make it available for use by the community. Data professionals and software developers take raw data and turn it into knowledge and wisdom, or create new digital services, tools, and apps from it.

Your Responsibilities    

The responsibilities of a data consumer are not onerous, but are important to ensure you’re using data responsibly:

1. Understanding and Using Data Responsibly

You should understand the origin of the data you’re using by reading the provided contextual metadata (the information about how the data was made). The creators of the City’s data will publish it on, and will often include a range of additional collateral and supporting material for their data, including:

  • Data dictionaries
  • Methodology statements describing how the data was created
  • Explanations of any caveats or issues with the data
  • And more

Take all of this supporting information into account to ensure that you’re using the data appropriately and responsibly. If you find the material is lacking, or that you have further questions that aren’t answered in the material, you should contact the authors and maintainers listed for the data set on

2. Respect Licensing and Usage Terms 

Make sure you understand the licensing and usage terms for any data you’re using. In many cases, data custodians will opt to use one of the licenses from the Creative Commons suite, a set of simple to understand licenses that are used all over the world. However, you may also encounter data that has multiple licenses applied or even data that has yet to have a license specified. If you find yourself confused or uncertain about how a data set is licensed, you should contact the data set maintainer listed to explain how you wish to use the data and ask them to clarify the licensing for you.

3. Keeping Data Up-to-Date

If you need to download copies of data from for ongoing use it’s important to ensure that you keep your copies of the data up-to-date. How often you need to refresh the data will depend on your particular use case:

  • How often the data you’re using is updated  
  • How much of an impact using a stale copy of the data would have on your use of it
  • Whether there are any risks to your department in using stale data.

Information about the intended and actual frequency of updates to data is published with all of the data on As always, if you need further clarification we encourage you to reach out to the data set maintainers.

Quick Links:

Data Creators
Data Publishers
Data Professionals
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