Executive Order (Sep 1, 2017)
Sunlight provided assistance with the development of this policy.
Note: The exact date the policy was signed is unclear. The date listed is when it was posted to the data portal.
City of Buffalo Open Data Policy
WHEREAS, the City of Buffalo (the “City”) is committed to fostering an open, efficient, accountable, and accessible government; and
WHEREAS, timely and consistent publication of open data is an essential component of such governance; and
WHEREAS, the adoption of an Open Data Policy will improve the provision of citizen services, enhance coordination and efficiency among and between City departments, divisions, and partner organizations, and increase opportunities for civic engagement and economic development; and
WHEREAS, making open data available online for reuse and consumption creates value for residents, government leaders, businesses, researchers, and the media, and facilitates the proactive provision of information currently sought through Freedom of Information Law requests; and
WHEREAS, an Open Data Program is crucial to providing opportunity for all and improving the City’s relationship within the various communities; and
WHEREAS, information technologies, including web-based and other internet applications and services, are an essential means for open government, and good governance generally; and
WHEREAS, the protection of privacy, confidentiality and security will be maintained as a paramount priority while also advancing the government’s transparency and accountability through open data.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Byron W. Brown, Mayor of the City of Buffalo, New York, by virtue of the executive and administrative authority vested in me by the Charter and Code of the City of Buffalo and the statutes and laws of the State of New York, do hereby direct and order as follows:
“Data” means statistical, factual, quantitative, or qualitative information that is maintained or created by or on behalf of a City department.
“Open data” means publishable City data and datasets that are available online, in a freely accessible format. Open data is provided in machine-readable format via Application Programming Interfaces (API)
“Open format” means any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine-readable method for formatting data, which permits automated processing of open data and facilitates search capabilities.
“Data portal” means the internet site established and maintained by or on behalf of the City for the collection and dissemination of publishable City data and datasets.
“Dataset” means a named collection of related records, with the collection containing data organized or formatted in a specific or prescribed way, often in tabular form and which does not contain any protected or sensitive information and which has been prepared for release on the Open Data Portal.
“Protected information” means any dataset or portion thereof to which a City department, office, administrative unit, commission, board, advisory committee or other division/department of the City government including third-party agency contractors that create or acquire information, records, or data on behalf of a City division/department, may deny access pursuant to applicable privileges or confidentiality doctrines and/or any applicable federal laws and/or the laws of the State of New York.
“Publishable City data” means data which does not contain any protected or sensitive information and which has been prepared for release on the Open Data Portal.
“Sensitive information” means any data that is subject to applicable exceptions or exemptions from disclosure pursuant to federal or state law or under such circumstances where, if such data were published on the Open Data Portal, its disclosure could raise privacy, confidentiality, privilege or security concerns or have the potential to jeopardize public health, safety or welfare to an extent that is greater than the potential public benefit of publishing that data.
OPEN DATA PROGRAM
The City is subject to New York State Public Officers Law Article 6 Sections 84-90 more commonly cited as the Freedom of Information Law. The Freedom of Information Law pertains to the people’s right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. The State Legislature declares that government is the public’s business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The City will build on this existing principle by developing and implementing practices that allow it to:
Proactively release all open data through a central location, making it freely available and fully accessible to the broadest range of users in readily accessible formats without any licensing fees or restrictions on use or reuse;
Publish high quality, updated open data with documentation (metadata) to encourage maximal use;
Minimize limitations on the disclosure of public information while appropriately safeguarding protected and sensitive information;
Encourage innovative uses of open data by the City’s departments/divisions, agencies, boards, commissions, the public, and other partners;
Provide a space for showcasing the innovative ways in which open data is used by these various stakeholders;
Promote active participation by the community, including civic technologists, civic activists, programmers, and database specialists to develop tools and applications that turn open data into insight;
Promote open data that informs increases in government efficiency, improvements in the quality of life of its citizens, and more equal opportunities for all residents;
Commit to data-driven decision making by utilizing open data to measure and manage performance; and
Create and explore potential partnerships that bolster efforts related to open data release, such as: increasing the availability of open data; identifying citizen priorities for open data release; and connecting government information to open data held by nonprofits, community organizations, academic institutions, think tanks, public benefit corporations, neighboring governments, and other public entities.
The development and implementation of these practices will be overseen by the Open Data Governance Committee, which will report to the Mayor, or the Mayor’s designee.
This policy will apply to any City department, office, administrative unit, commission, board, advisory committee or other division/department of the City government.
The Open Data Program will be overseen by the Open Data Governance Committee, comprised of representatives from the Mayor’s Office and City departments.
The head of each City Department will designate, from within the department, an open data liaison, who will: be responsible for managing that department’s participation in the Open Data Program; identify potential publishable City data or datasets for inclusion in the Open Data Portal; contextualize publishable City data or datasets; explain or cite how the data was created; periodically update the publishable City data or datasets based on internal and external needs; serve on the Open Data Governance Committee; upon request, meet with the Open Data Governance Committee to discuss any matter pertaining to implementation of this policy; and assist in the preparation of the annual Open Data Compliance Report.
The Open Data Governance Committee will:
Oversee the creation of a comprehensive inventory of publishable City data and datasets held by each City department. The inventory will be published to the Open Data Portal and regularly updated when new publishable City data or datasets are created or identified;
Develop and implement a process for guarding against the publishing of potentially sensitive, protected, privileged and/or confidential information;
Develop and implement a process for prioritizing the publishable City data and datasets to the Open Data Portal which takes into account new and existing signals of interest from the public (such as the frequency of FOIL requests), the City’s programmatic priorities, existing opportunities for publishable City data and datasets use in the public interest, and cost;
Establish processes for dissemination of publishable City data and datasets to the Open Data Portal, including processes for ensuring that datasets are reviewed for use-appropriate formats, quality, timeliness, and exclusion of protected and sensitive information;
Develop and oversee a routinely updated, publicly accessible timeline for new dissemination of publishable City data and datasets;
Ensure that access to protected and/or sensitive information is blocked, but make it possible to extract non-protected information from restricted sources and remove any data that represents policy concerns for publication, where feasible;
Ensure that publishable City data and datasets are available for bulk download on the Open Data Portal;
Provide for a future means of digitizing archived material that was in existence prior to the development of the Open Data Program;
Actively encourage department and public participation by providing regular opportunities for feedback and collaboration;
Ensure sufficient funding for implementation and support of an open data ecosystem by identifying funding sources for potential expenses, such as new staff, new software, training, and server maintenance;
Set appropriately ambitious, clear and firm timelines for implementation to provide motivation for action with benchmarks that can be used as metrics to quantify compliance with this policy;
Develop contract provisions to promote open data policies in procurements. These provisions will promote the City’s Open Data Program, including, when appropriate, requirements to post publishable City data and datasets to the City’s Open Data Portal or to make publishable City data and/or datasets data available through other means; and
Create a data governance standards document that defines: the vision and daily operation of the Open Data Program; the detailed roles and responsibilities of leadership and data liaisons within the program; a method for the identification and prioritization of datasets for publication and continuous updating; and a means for evaluating successes and failures of the Open Data Program.
ANNUAL OPEN DATA COMPLIANCE REPORT
Within 365 days of the effective date of this policy, the Open Data Governance Committee shall submit an Annual Open Data Compliance Report to the Mayor. The report shall include an assessment of progress toward achievement of the goals of the City’s Open Data Program, a list of datasets and publishable City data currently available on the Open Data Portal, and a description and publication timeline for any new datasets and publishable City data envisioned to be published on the portal in the following year. Where possible, the report should include but not be limited to, metrics on each category of the publishable City data and datasets that are being used, by whom, and the manner in which the information is being used. The report should also include suggestions for improving the City’s open data management processes in order to ensure that the City continues to move toward the achievement of the policy’s goals.
Following the submission of its initial report, the Governance Committee will submit an updated report annually. The annual open data compliance report will be made available on the City’s Open Data Portal.