An open data analysis of three city departments has prompted the New York Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) to recommend more open data support from the administration and specific strategies to help departments identify and publish data.
The MODA study, released Dec. 1, evaluated the city’s Buildings Department, Department of Environmental Protection Department and Fire Department to see if they were complying with open data best practices, using open data and identifying potential datasets to publish and improve. MODA found all three departments were complying with the law and also recommended that Mayor Bill de Blasio “regularly communicate the administration’s ongoing commitment to the Open Data Program” so staff know that their open data work will be seen as an asset instead of a liability.
“For many agencies, large investments in open data publishing are difficult to justify, especially for those that do not have systems or personnel to interface with the public on their data inventories,” the report says. “Executive buy-in is necessary to provide adequate resources for a robust agency open data program.”
Another takeaway from the report is that the city’s open data coordinators — department staff that head open data programs — need guidance designing open data strategies specific to their departments and strategies for training new open data coordinators. MODA recommended that New York’s Department of Information Technology & Telecommunication take on the responsibility.
“Each of these agencies has a history of engaging different New Yorkers in different ways, resulting in different data governance mechanisms and priorities for their open data programs.” The study states. “As a result, the [city’s] open data program reflects not a singular, but in fact, dozens of unique data publishing strategies.”
MODA says that despite these areas where improvements can be made, New York City’s open data program is still thriving. In the five years since the passage of the city’s open data law, departments have published more than 1,700 datasets. The open data portal has also evolved since its creation, getting a major facelift earlier this year, and it now tallies about 140,000 unique visitors each month.