Image: NYC Open Data
New legislation signed this month by Mayor de Blasio requires city agencies to release data from Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests, and a new agency will provide oversight and accountability to monitor overall compliance.
The NYC Open Data initiative, also known as Local Law 11 of 2012, makes a wealth of data generated by New York City government agencies and organizations available through the public.
Intro. 908-A, sponsored by Council Member Annabel Palma, requires agencies to review all FOIL requests and whether they belong in the Open Data portal. Qualifying datasets include any information that increases agency accountability and responsiveness or improves public knowledge of the agency and its operations. It also includes data that fosters efficiency and creates economic opportunity.
The law’s original language referenced “information that responds to a need or demand identified by the public.” Intro. 908-A clarifies this by explicitly including FOIL requests.
Intro. 916-A, sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Vacca, chair of the Committee on Technology, will help with overall implementation of the Open Data law. It “requires the mayor to designate an office or agency to examine and verify certain agencies’ compliance with the Open Data law.”
Since the law’s implementation, Open Data has revealed the extent of the city’s pothole woes (pictured above), provided shapefiles mapping city public space, and even uncovered MTA public safety complaints — to name just a few.
The NYC Open Data Dashboard shows that there are over one thousand datasets available online, with thousands more scheduled for release. Users are able to easily browse and download information and even visualize it using handy online tools.
“All of this means it will be easier for people, even those with no programming experience – like myself – to find the information they want, and better ways to utilize that information,” said Mayor de Blasio.
By March 2016, the new agency/office will present a plan for conducting new examinations and verifications to the commissioner of the investigation. The examination must be complete by December 1, 2016. New reports will continue to be due in subsequent years by December 1.