City of Buffalo Open Data Policy

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City of Buffalo Open Data Policy

City of Buffalo Open Data Policy

WHEREAS, the City of Buffalo (the "City") is committed to fostering an open, efficient, accountable, and accessible government; and

WHEREAS, timely and consistent publication of public information and data is an essential component of such governance; and

WHEREAS, the adoption of an open data policy will improve the provision of citizen services, enhance coordination and efficiency among and between City departments, divisions, and partner organizations, and increase opportunities for civic engagement and economic development; and

WHEREAS, making public data available online for reuse and consumption creates value for residents, government leaders, businesses, researchers, and the media, and facilitates the proactive provision of information currently sought through Freedom of Information Law requests; and

WHEREAS, an open data program is crucial to providing opportunity for all and improving the City's relationship with vulnerable communities; and

WHEREAS, information technologies, including web-based and other Internet applications and services, are an essential means for Open Government, and good government generally; and

WHEREAS, the protection of privacy, confidentiality and security will be maintained as a paramount priority while also advancing the government's transparency and accountability through open data.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Byron W. Brown, Mayor of the City of Buffalo, New York, by virtue of the executive and administrative authority vested in me by the Charter of the City of Buffalo and the statutes and laws of the State of New York, do hereby direct and order as follows:

Definitions

"Data" means non-privileged and non-confidential statistical, factual, quantitative, or qualitative information that is regularly maintained or created by or on behalf of a City department.

"Open data" means data that is available online, in a freely accessible format, with no legal encumbrances on use or reuse. Open data is provided in machine-readable format via Application Programming Interfaces (API).

"Open format" means any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine-readable method for formatting data, which permits automated processing of such data and facilitates search capabilities.

"Data portal" means the Internet site established and maintained by or on behalf of the City for the collection and dissemination of publishable City data

"Dataset" means a named collection of related records, with the collection containing data organized or formatted in a specific or prescribed way, often in tabular form.

"Protected information" means any dataset or portion thereof to which a City department, office, administrative unit, commission, board, advisory committee or other division/department of the City government including third-party agency contractors that create or acquire information, records, or data on behalf of a City division/department, may deny access pursuant to applicable privileges or confidentiality doctrines and/or any applicable federal laws and/or the the laws of the State of New York.

"Publishable City data" means data which is not protected or sensitive and which has been prepared for release on the open data web portal.

"Sensitive information" means any data that is subject to applicable exceptions or exemptions from disclosure pursuant to federal or state law or under such circumstances where, if such data were published on the Open Data Portal, its disclosure could raise privacy, confidentiality, privilege or security concerns or have the potential to jeopardize public health, safety or welfare to an extent that is greater than the potential public benefit of publishing that data.

Open Data Program

The City is subject to New York State Public Officers Law Article 6 Sections 84-90 more commonly cited as the Freedom of Information Law, which is largely incorporated in Chapter 361, Article IV (Public Access) of the Buffalo City Code, aka the Freedom of Information Ordinance. The Freedom of Information Law and the City ordinance provide that the people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. The legislature declares that government is the public's business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of the law.

The City will build on this existing principle by developing and implementing practices that allow it to:

  1. Proactively release all publishable City data, making it freely available and fully accessible to the broadest range of users in readily accessible formats without any licensing fees or restrictions on use or reuse;

  2. Publish high quality, updated data with documentation (metadata) to encourage maximal use;

  3. Maintain an open data portal that provides a central location for published City data;

  4. Minimize limitations on the disclosure of public information while appropriately safeguarding protected and sensitive information;

  5. Encourage innovative uses of the City's publishable non-privileged and non-confidential data by departments, the public, and other partners; and

  6. Provide open data that increases government efficiency, improves the quality of life of its citizens, and ensures opportunity for all residents.

The development and implementation of these practices will be overseen by the Open Data Governance Committee, which will report to the Mayor, or the Mayor's designee.

This policy will apply to any City department, office, administrative unit, commission, board, advisory committee or other division/department of the City government including the records of third-party agency contractors that create or acquire information, records, or data on behalf of a City division/department.

Governance

The Open Data Program will be overseen by the Open Data Governance Committee, comprised of representatives from the Mayor's Office, City departments, and will include input from the public.

The head of each City Department will designate, from within the department, an open data liaison, who will: be responsible for managing that department's participation in the Open Data Program; identify potential datasets for inclusion in the Open Data Portal; upload data to the Open Data Portal; contextualize datasets with descriptive metadata; explain or cite how the data was created; periodically update the data based on internal and external needs; serve on the Open Data Governance Committee; upon request, meet with the Open Data Governance Committee to discuss any matter pertaining to implementation of this Order; and assist in the preparation of the annual open data compliance report.

The Open Data Governance Committee will:

  1. Oversee the creation of a comprehensive inventory of datasets held by each City department which is published to the Open Data Portal and regularly updated;

  2. Develop and implement a process for guarding against the publishing of potentially sensitive, protected, privileged and/or confidential information;

  3. Develop and implement a process for prioritizing the release of datasets to the Open Data Portal which takes into account new and existing signals of interest from the public (such as the frequency of FOIL requests), the City's programmatic priorities, existing opportunities for data use in the public interest, and cost;

  4. Establish processes for publishing datasets to the Open Data Portal, including processes for ensuring that datasets are reviewed for use-appropriate formats, quality, timeliness, and exclusion of protected and sensitive information;

  5. Develop and oversee a routinely updated, publicly accessible timeline for new dataset publication;

  6. Ensure that access to restricted data is blocked, but make it possible to extract non-protected information from restricted sources and remove any data that represents policy concerns for publication, where feasible;

  7. Ensure that published datasets are available for bulk download;

  8. Provide for a future means of digitizing archived material that was in existence prior to the development of the Open Data Program;

  9. Actively encourage department and public participation by providing regular opportunities for feedback and collaboration;

  10. Ensure sufficient funding for implementation and support of an open data ecosystem by identifying funding sources for potential expenses, such as new staff, new software, training, and server maintenance;

  11. Set appropriately ambitious, clear, and firm timelines for implementation to provide motivation for action with benchmarks that can be used as metrics to quantify compliance with this policy;

  12. Create and explore potential partnerships that bolster efforts related to data release, such as: increasing the availability of open data, identifying citizen priorities for data release, and connecting government information to data held by nonprofits, academic institutions, think tanks, and neighboring governments;

  13. Work with the Chief Information Officer to develop contract provisions to promote open data policies in technology-related procurements. These provisions will promote the City's open data program, including, when appropriate, requirements to post data to the City's open data portal or to make data available through other means; and

  14. Create a data governance standards document that defines: the vision and daily operation of the open data program; the detailed roles and responsibilities of leadership and data liaisons within the program; a method for the identification and prioritization of datasets for publication and continuous updating; and a means for evaluating successes and failures of the open data program.

Annual Open Data Compliance Report

Within 365 days of the effective date of this Order, the Open Data Governance Committee shall submit an annual open data compliance report to the Mayor.

The report shall include an assessment of progress toward achievement of the goals of the City's Open Data program, a list of datasets currently available on the Open Data Portal, and a description and publication timeline for datasets envisioned to be published on the portal in the following year. Where possible, the report will include metrics on who is using government data, which data is being used, and how the data is being used. The report will also include suggestions for improving the City's open data management processes in order to ensure that the City continues to move toward the achievement of the policy's goals.

Following the submission of its initial report, the Governance Committee will submit an updated report annually.

The annual open data compliance report will be made available on the City's open data portal.

123 Comments
  • User profile image

    Chris Slocum

    and will include input from the public.

    I would recommend that it include members of the public with technical expertise and interest in publicly available data sets too instead of just receiving input.

  • User profile image

    Chris Slocum

    that datasets are reviewed

    By whom? Who has the last say for that and how would they be held accountable to the public?

  • User profile image

    Chris Slocum

  • User profile image

    Aaron Couch

    This document fails to require the sharing of the source code of the open data tools. "Require Code Sharing Or Publishing Open Source" is a recommendation of Sunlight Foundation https://sunlightfoundation.com/opendataguidelines/#open-code . Sharing the source code allows citizens to help contribute to the tools making the data public, allows citizens access to the tools for which they are paying, and allows other government agencies as well citizens to benefit from improvements made on behalf of Buffalo.

  • User profile image


    Welcome to the City of Buffalo’s public comment period on the Mayor’s draft Open Data policy. We’re looking forward to your feedback strengthening the governing document for our new Open Data program, which will make publishable City data more accessible to the public. After a brief and simple sign up, you’ll be able to do five things on the OpenGov Foundation’s Madison Project platform: read the document; let us know whether you support or oppose the document; leave a comment on the policy or open data, in general; highlight a bit of text and leave a note on that specific text; and respond to other people’s notes, starting a dialogue about a specific passage.

    Feel free to also leave a comment about what datasets you’d like to see the city publish in the future.

    The public comment period will be open from January 10th to 24th.

    Thank you for participating.

  • User profile image


    City of Buffalo Open Data Policy

    Welcome to the City of Buffalo’s public comment period on the Mayor’s draft Open Data policy. We’re looking forward to your feedback strengthening the governing document for our new Open Data program, which will make publishable City data more accessible to the public. After a brief and simple sign up, you’ll be able to do five things on the OpenGov Foundation’s Madison Project platform: read the document; let us know whether you support or oppose the document; leave a comment on the policy or open data, in general; highlight a bit of text and leave a note on that specific text; and respond to other people’s notes, starting a dialogue about a specific passage. Feel free to also leave a comment about what datasets you’d like to see the city publish in the future. The public comment period will be open from January 10th to 24th. Thank you for participating.

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