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COH “Open Data Policy” will make city data more accessible

City leaders excited

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City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced a new “Open Data Policy” that will allow citizens easier access to city datasets and records. The new policy, enacted by an administrative procedure by Mayor Parker, would set up a process to determine what data should be freely available to the public and how to keep the data up-to-date. In cities across the country, open data policies have led to innovative apps and programs created by tech developers that help inform citizens about local issues or trends. More on the new policy from the Houston Chronicle:

The new policy calls for an advisory board to be formed within 30 days and to have open data standards drafted within 90 days, guiding all city departments in complying with the directive. The task force, [City of Houston Finance Director Kelly] Dowe said, will start by identifying the information citizens are most interested in and how best to unleash it.

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“We’ve been very reactive to what City Council has put out there to try and curate the right projects and build the right apps that can be useful,” [Jeff Reichman of consulting firm January Advisors] said. “When we can strategically release popular datasets and put it in the hands of citizens, great things can happen. It gives highly engaged citizens a direct channel to talk to the city and say, ‘I want to see X,’ and be able to do something with that data.”

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“When you look at what other cities have seen who do have fresh, open data - not like some of ours where you go out and it’s 2013 data - it’s exciting what they get,” Dowe said. “Why sit there and make people ask if we’ve already established that it’s the citizens’ right to have it and you’re already spending time and money and effort putting it out there or reassembling it every time somebody asks you for it? Why not just build a quick program that pushes it out on the portal?”

Photo: Open Knowledge (Flickr)

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