Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu filed an ordinance aimed at providing greater transparency on municipal data. Right now, Boston has an open data portal, but the data on that site only shows information obtained through Freedom of Information Act obligations. The new ordinance would resemble other open data policies in cities nationwide, by disclosing datasets without first requiring a FOIA request.
46 datasets are currently available on the open data portal site but they do little to give the public much information on a city as large and diverse as Boston. The lack of data is surprising given previous transparency efforts under Mayor Menino, not to mention the healthy developer community in Boston and the surrounding metro area.
The proposed ordinance would set up similar open data processes and procedures common to municipalities with one. Boston would have a Data Coordinator role ensuring that datasets are posted and comply with applicable Open Data policies. The coordinator role would also be tasked with creating an open data plan for appropriate agencies including release timelines.
“Government today should center on making data-driven decisions and inviting in the public to collaborate around new ideas and solutions,” said Councilor Wu in a statement. “The goal of this ordinance is greater transparency, access and innovation. We need a proactive, not a reactive, approach to information accessibility and open government.”