Buffalo Focuses On Transparency


Buffalo, New York is moving ahead on transparency. Today, the city released a draft of its first open data policy. The document is the result of Buffalo’s work with the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities initiative, a project aimed at helping city governments make better data driven decisions.

The policy proposal calls on city agencies to begin pulling together data that can be made available to the public and also craft a schedule for regular updates to public datasets. Buffalo is also getting help from the Sunlight Foundation, which will provide recommendations on open data best practices.

The public will have 14 days to comment on the policy proposal and suggest changes. “Our in-house team, with the expertise of our What Works Cities partners, is pushing ahead toward the July launch of the free, Buffalo Open Data internet portal which will enhance the on-going effort to grow Buffalo into a City of opportunity for all. We look forward to receiving comments on what we believe will be a best-of-class public data portal,” Mayor Brown said in a statement.

The city is utilizing a temporary internet platform provided by the OpenGov Foundation’s Madison Project to host the public comment period. Madison is a government policy co-creation platform that opens up laws and legislation previously off-limits to individuals and the Internet community. Buffalo plans to release an RFP in the future that will call for bids from open data platform providers for a more permanent solution.

Open data isn’t the only modernization policy underway in Buffalo. Earlier this month the city opted to do away with parking minimums, a move that looks to improve the walkability of the city. Prior to the change, developers in Buffalo were required to include a minimum number of parking spots with any new building development. However, that’s left the city filled with parking garages and parking lots that are often largely empty. Cutting down on the number of empty parking spots will allow for more people-friendly developments like sidewalks, plazas and greenspaces. Analysts at Streets Blog suggest that the move will also improve the development market in Buffalo by allowing for more modern urban design choices.