Fort Worth, Texas has launched its own open data portal. The portal, done by Socrata, will cost the city $80,000 annually and so far, has limited information. In May, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price announced that an open data portal was coming, however the first phase of newly released datasets includes only certificates of occupancy, development permits and residential permits available.
The data that is there is available in multiple formats, although leaves much to be desired in terms of shedding light on the public’s business happening in city government.
Officials note that they opted to put the most requested data out there first, and as such, permits make sense. However, phase two as described so far is only crime stats and restaurant ratings. Departmental scorecards that outline city goals are also to be included along with a community calendar. Conspicuously missing from the list is contract data, lobbying data, budget data, meeting information, even the ever popular pothole and transit time data also didn’t make the list. The city offers a comprehensive annual report in PDF format on a separate website.
Fort Worth’s City Council has made its own call for more transparency in city government, a welcome sign for open government advocates. But it’s a little surprising this many years into open data efforts nationwide, that Fort Worth has opted to go this route. There are many case studies from larger and smaller cities that show how to open data that truly reflects the public’s business – a community calendar, while handy, isn’t one of them.
The Mayor’s statement says that while more openness won’t be immediate, more is coming. Watch this space.