In the past few years we’ve seen a huge shift in the way governments publish information. More and more governments are proactively releasing information as raw open data rather than simply putting out reports or responding to requests for information. This has enabled all sorts of great tools like the ones that help us find transportation or the ones that let us track the spending and performance of our government. Unfortunately, somewhere in this new wave of open data we forgot some of the most fundamental information about our government, the basic “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where”.
“Open.ny.gov creates unprecedented transparency across all levels of government and gives the people user-friendly access to vast quantities of information on our State,” Governor Cuomo
Compiling information in a central location is the first step toward understanding the size and scope of the data that is in the city’s possession. “It’s the equivalent of going to a library, and know you have a card catalog you can go to,” Noel Hidalgo, executive director of the Open NY Forum, a civic data meetup group that was part of the coalition of non-profits that advocated for the law.
In the meantime, some omissions from the new lode are glaring. For example, precinct-level crime data, released on a weekly basis by the NYPD, does not appear to be housed in the portal. The NYPD currently hosts that information on its own website, and makes it available only in PDF format, which makes it nearly impossible to extract and use the data to track crime trends and patterns.
Local Law 11 requires agencies to convert data posted on the web portal to a format that can be used for other purposes, like building applications and running analyses. “Not having it in machine-readable format is almost a disservice, or it’s creating an obtuse government,” said Hidalgo. “Willingly creating data that is not easily consumed by computers, you’re not in 21st century.”
It’s a baby step in the right direction, but it’s a pretty big baby step,” said Noel Hidalgo, executive director of the Open NY Forum and Code for America’s local program manager. “You cannot reinvent the architecture and the practices of government within a year.
One year ago, you made history. One year ago, we got NYC’s Open Data law passed and gave this nation a new gold standard in government transparency.
By opening up and making the City’s data machine readable, the we will be able to build better interfaces and help grow this city into the 21st Century. Together, we will increase the effectiveness of government services and an equitable City for the future.
Today, we stand on the steps of City Hall and look to the future of municipal open data. Over the next few years, it is up to us, the developers, designers, the doers, and the thinkers to be a true partner in open government. It is up to us to be the Government for the people by the people.
Happy Birthday Local Law 11 of 2012! Here’s to a new era in Open Government.
Using mobile technology and creative solutions, the developers behind the winning apps of the Financial Empowerment Hackathon have thought strategically and creatively about how best to approach the challenges facing consumers today,” said Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer. “Their apps, which do everything from send automatic phone messages about appointments with financial counselors to quickly pinpointing the nearest Financial Empowerment Center, will help consumers become smarter managers of their money. Once again, New York City’s local technology community has proved an effective partner in serving New Yorkers through technology, and we appreciate these innovative contributions.
Bushwick’s Community Board 4 has been withholding liquor license applications and decisions from the public illegally, state officials said.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission has released its final report on modernizing and rightsizing New York State government. The final report identified initiatives that represent the most comprehensive reorganization of State government since those undertaken by Governor Al Smith in the 1920s. Collectively, they are expected to save over $1.6 billion once fully implemented, improve service to citizens and businesses, and increase transparency and accountability.