New York City Releases Open Data Report


New York City has released its annual open data report. The report shows how the city is progressing in its open data policy and provides a snapshot of what new data is available to city residents.

The city of New York passed the Open Data Law in 2012, requiring each city agency to identify and ultimately publish its digital public data to the NYC Open Data Portal. In 2015, Mayor de Blasio introduced Open Data for All, an initiative designed to expand New York City’s open data efforts. As of this year, agencies are required to make commitments to engage their communities using their datasets, beyond just publishing them. Commitments include advertising agency’s data on its website and social media, producing curricula for how to use their data, speaking about agency data at a public event or in schools, and writing blog posts. The city’s open data policy was made permanent in December 2017.

Over the last year, dozens of agencies have released datasets to the NYC Open Data Portal. In all, some 600 new datasets have been published by 38 agencies on a broad range of issues including drinking water, financial assistance, domestic violence, and poverty. Another 400 datasets are already slated to be released in the coming year.

In addition, the NYC Open Data team is calling for the creation of the first-ever Open Data Advisory Council and Open Data Youth Leadership Council. The Advisory Council will create a forum to develop strategic partnerships as well as formalize the channel for presenting and receiving feedback on NYC’s Open Data strategy. The city has already put out an open call for councilmembers.

The report has received early praise from some open data advocates in New York. “The MODA/DoITT Open Data team did three things in 2018 that we think are especially worth noting,” said John Kaehny, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany and founding co-chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group.”First, the team automated 38 new data sets — for a total of 246 — and identified 300 more data sets that can be automated. Automating data sets is crucial to making open data sustainable, and we hope the City accelerates its efforts here. Second, the team produced data dictionaries for 89% of data sets. Without a data dictionary, open data is near worthless. Third, the team uniformly geo-coded for 80% of data sets.”

Automation helps cities keep public data fresh by streamlining the review and update process. The use of data dictionaries can also make it easier for a broad range of people to understand what is represented in a given data set. Going forward, the city says it plans to keep improving how it provides open data to city residents. Case studies and visualizations like those used in the report have emerged as a means of making data easily digestible and other formats including software applications are being considered.

The full text of the report is available here.