May 1, 2013 By Rachelle Chong
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee last week signed into law the Citywide Coordination of Open Data Policy and Procedures legislation introduced jointly with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. This new landmark Open Data law establishes the position and duties of a new chief data officer to be appointed by the mayor, and orders that departmental data coordinators assist in the implementation of the Open Data Policy. The ordinance also establishes rules and procedures for making open data available through the city’s open data Web portal.
This initiative began in 2009 by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, who issued an Executive Directive promoting open data policies. In 2010, the Board of Supervisors passed the city’s Open Data Policy (Ordinance 293-10) codified in San Francisco’s Administrative Code Section 22D. Among the expected benefits to citizens are increased government efficiency and civic engagement, leading to social and economic benefits: (1) fostering citizen participation in city projects; (2) increased citizen interaction with municipal government; (3) supporting early state entrepreneurship; (4) workforce development and job creation; and (5) fostering a positive business environment and promoting public-private partnerships.
According to Jay Nath, chief innovation officer for the Office of Mayor Edwin Lee, the new chief data officer will report to the mayor’s budget director. Further, the departmental data coordinators will be identified from existing staff at the approximately 50 city departments, board, commission and agencies (“departments”).
According to Section 22D(a), the new chief data officer will be responsible for “sharing city data with the public, facilitating the sharing of information between city departments and analyzing how data sets can be used to improve city decision making.” The data coordinator will be designated by each city department, and will oversee implementation and compliance with the Open Data Policy with that department. Each city department is charged with making reasonable efforts to make available all data sets under the department’s control while complying with privacy laws, prepare an Open Data plan for its department, establishing a timeline for the publication of the open data including a summary of the open data efforts planned or under way in that department, summarize the data sets under the department’s control, prioritize the data sets for inclusion on the DataSF website, and comply with the data set guidelines.
Data sets will be made available free of charge to the public through the Web portal. Data sets containing personally identifiable information or representing potential breaches to security or privacy are to be flagged for potential exclusion from DataSF.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.