Draft Open Data Policy

Shared for feedback by City of Irving

The City of Irving has been hard at work drafting a new policy to make city data more open and available to everyone. Our vision is that open data will create lasting improvements to transparency and accountability in our city. We believe in the power of open data to drive innovation, increase civic participation, and improve how the city serves our residents.

Our draft policy is now available online, and we want your comments on it. Please read the policy, comment on it as a whole or on specific parts in the discussion box below, and see and respond to what other people think about it. Comments are open now and will be accepted until Feb. 7.

Read the document

Draft Open Data Policy

Draft Open Data Policy

City of Irving

  1. PURPOSE: The City of Irving is committed to fostering open, transparent, and accessible city government, and recognizes that by sharing data freely, the city will generate opportunities for economic development, commerce, and civic engagements for residents. The city also recognizes that providing timely access to city data, will improve transparency, public access to information, and coordination between city departments, residents, visitors, and the private sector.

  2. SCOPE: The policy only pertains to public data chosen for open data release. Creation of this policy does not create an obligation to populate any class of data to the City’s Open Data Program.

  3. OBJECTIVES: The City commits to develop and implement practices that will allow it to:

a. Proactively release certain City data, making it freely available in appropriately varied and useful open formats, using an open license with no restrictions on use or reuse, and fully accessible to the broadest range of users to use for varying purposes;;

b. Publish high-quality, updated data with documentation (metadata) and permanence to encourage maximum use;;

c. Provide or support access to free, historical archives of released city data;;

d. Measure the effectiveness of datasets made available through the Open Data Program by connecting open data efforts to the city’s programmatic priorities;;

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

f. Support innovative uses of the city’s publishable data..

The development and implementation of these practices shall be overseen by the City Manager or designee. Appropriate funding shall be made available to achieve the goals of this program.

Warranty: Public data sets made available on the internet are provided for informational purposes. The city does not warrant the completeness, accuracy, content or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any public data set made available on the web portal, nor are any such warranties to be implied or inferred with respect to the public data sets furnished therein. The city is not liable for any deficiencies in the completeness, accuracy, content or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any public data set, or application utilizing such data set, provided by any third party. This directive shall not be construed to create a private right of action to enforce its provisions. Failure to comply with this policy shall not result in liability to the city.

  1. DEFINITIONS: Data: statistical, factual, quantitative, or qualitative information that is maintained or created by or on behalf of a city department. This definition is inclusive of software source code developed or maintained by or on behalf of the city.

Open Data: data that is available online, in an open format, with no legal encumbrances on use or reuse, and is available for all to access and download in full without fees or a requirement of registration. “Legal encumbrance” includes federal copyright protections and other, non-statutory legal limitations on how or under what conditions a dataset may be used. This definition is also inclusive of any software source code made available online “open source software”.

Open Format: any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine-readable data format that permits automated processing of such data and facilitates analysis and search capabilities.

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

Public Dataset: a comprehensive collection of interrelated data that is available for inspection by the public in accordance with any provision of law and is maintained on a computer system by, or on behalf of, the city.

Protected Information: any dataset or portion thereof to which the city may deny access pursuant to the state or city public records statute or any other law or rule or regulation.

Sensitive Information: any data which, if published by the city online, could raise privacy, confidentiality 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.

Publishable Data: data that is not protected or sensitive and has been prepared for release to the public. Such term shall not include:

a. Any portion of such data set to which the city may deny access pursuant to law enforcement or any other provision of a federal or state law, rule or regulation, or local law;;

b. Any data set that contains a significant amount of data to which the city may deny access pursuant to law enforcement or any other provision of a federal or state law, rule, or regulation or local law and where removing such data would impose undue financial or administrative burden;;

c. Data that reflects the internal deliberative process of the city, including but not limited to negotiating positions, future procurements, or pending or reasonably anticipated legal or administrative proceedings;;

d. Data stored on an city-owned personal computing device, or data stored on a portion of a network that has been exclusively assigned to a city employee or a single city-owned or controlled computing device;;

e. Materials subject to copyright, patent, trademark, confidentiality agreements, or trade secret protection;;

f. Proprietary applications, computer code, software, operating systems or similar materials; orr

g. Employment records, internal employee-related directories or lists, and facilities data, information technology, and other data related to city administration..


Central Online Location for Published Data a. The city will create and maintain a publicly available location on the city's website or in another suitable online location where the city’s published data will be available.e.

b. Published datasets shall be placed into the public domain. Dedicating datasets to the public domain means that there are no restrictions or requirements placed on use of these datasets..

c. Each published dataset should be associated with contact information for the appropriate manager of that dataset as well as with a file layout or data dictionary that provides information about field labels and values..

d. City departments will specify a recommended data citation form available for viewing on the central online location for published city data to encourage responsible reuse of city data..

Open Data Report and Review

e. Within one year of the effective date of this policy, and thereafter no later than [date] of each year, the City Manager or designee shall publish an annual Open Data Report. The report shall include an assessment of progress towards achievement of the goals of the city’s Open Data Program, an assessment of how the city’s open data work has furthered or will further the city’s programmatic priorities, and a description and publication timeline for datasets envisioned to be published by the city in the following year.

f. During the review and reporting period, the City Manager or designee should also make suggestions for improving the city’s open data management processes to ensure the city continues to move toward the achievement of the policy’s goals..

Open Data Availability

g. Public data sets that the city makes available on the internet shall be accessible through a single web portal that is linked to CityofIrving.org or any successor website maintained by, or on behalf of, the City of Irving..

h. The city will make reasonable efforts to make such public data sets available in a format that permits automated processing..

i. Such public data sets shall be updated frequently to preserve the integrity and usefulness of the data sets to the extent that the city regularly maintains or updates the public data set..

j. Such public data sets shall be made available without any registration requirement, license requirement, or restrictions on their use. The city may require a third party providing to the public any public data set, or application utilizing such data set, to explicitly identify the source and version of the public data set, and a description of any modifications made to such public data set, registration requirements, license requirements, or restrictions..

*OPEN DATA as used in this section shall not include measures required to ensure access to public data sets, to protect the single website housing public data sets from unlawful abuse or attempts to damage or impair use of the website, or to analyze the types of data being used to improve service delivery. Such public data sets shall be accessible to external search.

  1. RESPONSIBILITIES: Implementation of an open data program will be overseen by the City Manager or the City Manager’s designee, who will work with the individual departments to:

a. Identify a lead open data coordinator and publish appropriate contact information for the person who will be responsible for managing that department’s participation in the open data program;;

b. Oversee the creation of a comprehensive inventory of datasets held by each city department to be published to the central open data location and ensure it is regularly updated;;

c. Develop and implement a process for determining the relative level of risk and public benefit associated with potentially sensitive, non-protected information to make a determination about whether and how to publish it;;

d. Develop and implement a process for prioritizing the release of datasets which takes into account new and existing signals of interest from the public (such as the frequency of public records requests), the city's programmatic priorities, existing opportunities for data use in the public interest, and cost;;

e. Proactively consult with members of the public, city staff, journalists, researchers, and other stakeholders to identify the datasets that will have the greatest benefit to city residents if published in a high-quality manner;;

f. Establish processes for publishing datasets to the central open data location, including processes for ensuring that datasets are high quality, up-to-date, are in use-appropriate formats, and exclude protected and sensitive information;;

g. Ensure that appropriate metadata is provided for each dataset in order to facilitate its use;;

h. Develop and oversee a routinely updated, public timeline for new dataset publication;;

i. Make recommendations for historical document inclusion, define a schedule for approved historical document publication;;

j. Ensure that published datasets are available for bulk download and/or available via public application programming interfaces (APIs) without legal encumbrance..

In order to increase and improve use of the city’s open data, the City Manager or designee will actively encourage city staff and public participation through providing regular opportunities for feedback and collaboration.

1 Comment
  • User profile image

    DKAN Project

    Draft Open Data Policy

    Thank you for providing the opportunity to publicly comment on your open data policy. Congratulations on embracing an open approach to open data from the start.

    When considering technology options for managing and hosting open data, it is critical to prioritize free and open source solutions.

    To better understand the importance of this, I urge you to take advantage of the guidance provided by the U.S. Government's Project Open Data (https://project-open-data.cio.gov/). Although directed at federal agencies it offers open data tools and best practices for all levels of government. All of the tools are available for free since they are under free and open source software licenses and can be used by anyone, including governments.

    For example Project Open Data recommends using the free and open source data platforms CKAN (https://ckan.org) and DKAN (https://getdkan.org/). Both of these platforms are widely used by many governmental organizations globally. Because of the large community of governments using and contributing to the tools, you can trust that the tools are supported and improved over time without the risk of being locked into a single vendor or escalating support costs.

    Since CKAN and DKAN use open data formats, open protocols and open APIs, there is a rich selection of tools that are interoperable with both. Also, since there is a competitive market for development, hosting and support services, governments can select from any CKAN or DKAN vendor without fear of financial or technical lock-in. Open source platforms such as CKAN and DKAN provide that transparency by ensuring that government entities can select their publication platform independently of financial costs and vendor agreements.

    There are also licensing freedoms associated with free and open source platforms such as CKAN and DKAN.

    Advantages of open source licensing include:

    No licensing fees (Including no licensing fees based on the number of datasets or the amount of data published). Governments are free to select any vendor for support agreements including the ability to switch support vendors while continuing to use the same software and instance. Governments can use the software without a support contract. If the agency determines that a support contract is not cost-effective or needs to reduce costs temporarily, it has the ability to self-support with existing staff. Governments can make modifications to the software that meet its needs by either using internal staff or partnering with a third-party vendor. Governments can use the publicly-available improvements created by other government agencies that it determines are useful for free and without the need for interagency agreements. Allows the software to work with any other partner agency’s platform including the industry standard platforms CKAN and DKAN.

    Since the use of open source software to host open data allows the agency a unrestricted right to use the software indefinitely, the general public can rely on the location of the open data. A stable location allows the general public, journalists and businesses to rely on the availability of the data incorporate accessing the data into their own procedures, and automated processes. In contrast, using proprietary platforms forces the general public to spend money on licensing fees and development fees to build new tools to interface with the proprietary vendor and even lose track of the data if the agency ever decides to switch vendors. The inconvenience of switching proprietary vendors too often forces agencies to stay with a vendor offering subpar services even as proprietary licensing fees increase, because vendors know the agency is “locked-in.”

    Open data is essential for increasing transparency and democratizing access to government information and participation. However, data can never truly be open if governments or the general public have to pay exorbitant costs or struggle to locate the data through a maze of closed technical protocols that can change based on the financial interests of proprietary vendors.

    To truly open data, the data should be gathered and published using free and open source tools that provide transparency to not just the data, but the integrity and availability of the data as well.

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