New Orleans outlines plans for first open data policy

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New Orleans is on its way to adopting its first open data policy, which would encourage agencies to release city data proactively

Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an executive order Thursday, outlining the basic principles underlying the plan and directing his chief administrative office to issue a memo outlining the city’s open data policy in more detail in the coming weeks.

“When I took office in 2010, I committed to making city government more efficient, open and transparent so that our residents could hold us accountable,” Landrieu said in a statement. “This executive order is the next step in delivering on the promise we made to our residents and in shaping the future New Orleans for generations to come.”   

At the heart of the policy, Landrieu is hoping to prompt the creation of “a process for proactively releasing publishable city data” including the designation of “data coordinators” in each agency who will be tasked with “prioritizing data for release.”

The new policy will also contain “a plan for creating a comprehensive data inventory,” in addition to “a repository where public datasets can be made freely available to the public on an open license basis,” and “a repository where authoritative geographic data will be maintained.”

Additionally, Landrieu’s order directs the office to formulate “a plan for reporting progress towards achievement of the goals set forth in the data policy” and “a plan for maintaining compliance with the Louisiana Public Records law when publicly releasing data.”

[Read more: Open gov groups team up on new database of local open data policies]

“Knowing what data we have allows it to be used as a tool for accountability, government transparency and building trust with the public,” city Chief Information Officer Lamar Gardere said in a statement. “Each of the city’s efforts benefits from the implicit partnership open data creates between the public sector, community and private/non-profit sectors. We have recognized data as a powerful tool to create innovative collaboration and to drive results.”

Indeed, the city has frequently used open data to build tools and web portals in the past. Landrieu cited New Orleans’ work on tools to share and analyze data on blighted neighborhoods, 911 calls, property ownership and more as proof of his administration’s commitment to open data.

Yet, in a release, Landrieu’s office noted that “data releases have been ad hoc with no specific policy or agreed upon guiding principles” so far. Accordingly, the city joined Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “What Works Cities” initiative in 2015 — a project dedicated to promoting data-driven decision-making at the local level — and worked with a variety of open-data-focused groups like the Sunlight Foundation, Results for America and the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University to formulate the new executive order.

In tandem with Landrieu’s signing of the order, the city also released a pair of new data-focused websites — one features a searchable database of all the city’s 311 calls, while the other serves as a clearinghouse for all of the city’s data tools and initiatives.

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Big Data, Careers & Elected Officials, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Data & Analytics, Freedom of Information Act, Louisiana, Mayor, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans, open data policy, Open Government, State & Local News, States, Sunlight Foundation, Tech News, transparency, What Works Cities
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