Initial GO DATA roll-out is “important first step” toward transparency
Today, the City of Detroit took a major step toward becoming a more transparent government by launching the first phase of its new Initiative, which will make volumes of information more easily accessible to the public at no cost.
The purpose of the GO DATA (Government Open Data Access To All) initiative – established by Executive Order 2015-02 – is to increase the accessibility and the availability of certain data collected or maintained by the City. The goal, according to Mayor Mike Duggan, is to create a more open, collaborative and accountable relationship between the City government and the people it serves.
Open data – a process of making non-personal, public information broadly accessible and usable by people and computers, free of any constraints - is a fast-growing movement within government. The cornerstone of this major shift in City policy will be that data and information, unless exempt from disclosure under State or federal law, will be available to the public, starting with an open data portal accessible at www.detroitmi.gov.
“Providing access to information is one of the most important things we can do to keep the public’s trust and establish a sense of accountability within city government,” said Mayor Duggan. “Today is an important first step in that direction and one we will continue to build on as more information is added to this new website,” he said.
With initial participation from nine City agencies, the following high-value data will be available starting today:
• DPD crime reports (updated hourly once a report has been completed and filed)
• Building and Trade permits (updated daily). This will allow visitors to see who pulled a permit, what type of work is being done and what contractor is doing the work.
• Blight remediation data (updated weekly)
o Detroit Land Bank Authority sales reports: properties, side lots, auctions
o DLBA demolitions: completed demolitions in Hardest Hit Funds Zones, as well as projected demolitions expected to occur by May 1, 2015
Overall, the data available at launch of the Open Data Portal includes:
• Information from nine City agencies and authorities
o Buildings, Safety, Engineering & Environmental Department
o Detroit Police Department
o Detroit Land Bank Authority
o Planning & Development Department
o Recreation Department
o Public Works
o City Clerk (Elections)
• More than 75 individual datasets,
o More than 60 maps of libraries and parks, an official city parcel map, and other data.
o More coming online every other week
• Nearly 400,000 individual pieces of data about City operations
New data sets will come online in the weeks and months to come, including all city financial transactions, which should be accessible online by mid-year.
The new open data initiative is part of the overall effort to make city government more accessible to residents. Already the city has launched a mobile app showing the real time location of DDOT buses and unveiled a newly redesigned and more useful website that works on mobile phones. In his State of the City Address, the Mayor said that in the next month or so, the city would launch a new mobile app called “Improve Detroit,” which will allow anyone to report a range of service issues, including water main breaks, broken street lights, illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles and more.
This new open data portal will be supported by software-as-a-services provider, Socrata, Inc. the leading global provider of open data and government performance management solutions. The open data portal has been established through a partnership between Socrata, Inc., the Socrata Foundation, and the City of Detroit.
“Our goal,“ explains Socrata CEO and Founder Kevin Merritt, “is to help governments use one of the most valuable and new natural resources – open data – to drive outcomes and impact with their constituents. Ultimately, fact-based and data-driven government will become the fundamental basis for all critical and strategic decisions made in the public sector everywhere.”
Community engagement will be an ongoing aspect
To determine what information can be made available, the Mayor also announced the creation of a Task Force and an Advisory Commission to evaluate and determine the best methods for the design, implementation and monitoring of his Open Data Initiative.
The Task Force, with assistance from the Law Department, will determine how to structure access to public data and information to ensure public records and other data and information can be easily accessible to the public in an open data format that is readable by residents, able to be processed by computers and scheduled for release. The Open Data Task Force includes the City’s Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, Director of Communications and relevant city department heads.
To encourage civic engagement, the new open data Portal features:
• Ability to retrieve, download, index, and search data by commonly used web search applications
• Easy ways for members of the community to tell the City what data they want to see, give us feedback, and tell us when things are incorrect
• Quick access to tools and tutorials for developers and hackers to build visualizations and applications using City data
The Mayor’s Open Data Advisory Committee is expected to be formed in the coming weeks. It will be chaired by CIO Beth Niblock and include representatives of the community, academic institutions and civic technologists. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to make sure the city is taking into consideration the needs of the community in developing its open data process.
Anyone interested in becoming a candidate for a seat on the Advisory Committee can fill out this form.