Los Angeles Mayor Calls For Open Data Policy


The Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a new directive late yesterday calling for an open data policy in that city. Specifically, Garcetti directed all City departments to collect data that they generate and prepare it for posting on a city website, which will go live in early 2014.

In the directive, the Mayor cited COMPSTAT – a program through the Los Angeles Police Department which leverages open and big data for law enforcement as an example already in place for open data in L.A. He also ordered the General Manager of the Information Technology Agency and the Mayor’s Deputy Mayor for Budget & Innovation to establish an Open Data Portal that will serve as the central source for departmental open data.

The directive also seems to include at least a baseline understanding of how to deliver open data in the best possible way, the Mayor calls on departments to make datasets available in machine readable formats where possible. However, even though the directive extends to all city departments, implying high value data could be released the document also includes this qualifier – “appropriate datasets”. Indeed, the Mayor intends to ensure that sensitive information is still kept securely and largely private, which makes sense. The real question will be whether ‘appropriate’ extends to data people might really be interested in like budget items, lobbying records, or school performance. These data have already been politicized or withheld in other cities.

The overall timeline is unclear as well. The directive only says a portal must be established at some point in the next year, whether that means populated with datasets is unstated. When city offices will have to comply is also unstated. As CivSource recently reported, San Francisco recently approved an open data standard with timelines in place. This new directive marks a first step, but not much more. Watch this space.