Open Data Policy Collection

Charlottesville, VA

Council Resolution (Jun 19, 2017)

View original policy (PDF)


Open Data Formal Policy Approval

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council for the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, that the formal policy for the Open Data Initiative is approved.



  1. The City of Charlottesville encourages an open and transparent government by using open data to improve citizen engagement, promote civic innovation, engage community problem solving.

  2. The City places a priority on providing open data sets that help the City achieve its mission and goals.

  3. The City will strive for proactive disclosure, in accordance with existing open data laws.

  4. The City will respond to new data set requests while considering available staff and financial resources.

  5. The City will collect and publish data that is accessible to all users, published in a machine readable format, and broad and non-discriminatory.


The purpose of this Management Policy is to establish guidelines for the City of Charlottesville Open Data Initiative. The City of Charlottesville is committed to creating a formal Open Data program that includes the creation of an Open Data Web Portal where machine-readable data will be publicly available online. The initiative is intended to advance a number of public policy objectives, including:

  • Increased transparency and access to public information
  • Enhanced coordination and efficiencies among City departments and partner organizations
  • Better informed decision making through the aggregation, synthesis, and analysis of data
  • Higher levels of civic engagement and provision of valuable public feedback to government officials regarding local issues

This policy and the process outlined within seeks to move the City toward proactive publication of selected data containing information consistent with relevant public records law and pertinent to the City’s programmatic priorities, beginning with data related to identified key strategic goals.

While advancing these public objectives, this policy upholds that the protection of privacy, confidentiality, and security will be maintained as a paramount priority.


a. “Data” means statistical, factual, and quantitative information that is regularly maintained or created by or on behalf of a City department.

b. “Open Data” means data that is available online, in an open format, with minimal legal encumbrances on use or reuse.

c. “Open format” means any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform independent, machine-readable method for formatting data that permits automated processing of such data and facilitates search capabilities.

d. “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.

e. “Protected information” means any dataset or portion thereof to which an agency may deny access pursuant to applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

f. “Sensitive information” means any data that, if published on the Open Data Web Portal, could raise privacy, confidentiality 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.

g. “Publishable data” means data that is not protected or sensitive and that has been prepared for release on the Open Data Web Portal.


The City will develop and implement practices that allow it to:

  1. Continuously advance Open Data practices that move the City closer to the eventual goal of proactive release of all publishable City data, making it freely available in open formats, with minimal restrictions on use or reuse, and fully accessible to the broadest range of users to use for varying purposes; [The Data available via the Open Data Web Portal will be licensed under a standard “Creative Commons” public copyright license which enables the free distribution of otherwise copyrighted data.]

  2. Establish and maintain an Open Data Web Portal that provides a central location for published City data;

  3. Publish quality, updated data with documentation about the data (metadata) to encourage maximum use;

  4. Automate where possible the publishing and update process to ensure the most current data is available on the portal and reduce resource time spent in publishing data;

  5. Minimize limitations on the disclosure of public information while appropriately safeguarding protected and sensitive information; and

  6. Encourage innovative uses of the City’s publishable data by agencies, the public, and other partners.

The development and implementation of these practices shall be overseen by the Open Data Advisory Group, who shall be appointed by and report directly to the City Manager and Assistant City Manager.


Implementation of the Open Data Initiative will be overseen by the Open Data Advisory Group who will work with the City’s departments to:

  1. Identify the data owners who will be involved with the department’s participation in the Open Data Initiative;

  2. Oversee the development of a prioritized inventory of datasets held by departments that can be published to the Open Data Web Portal;

  3. Develop and implement a process for determining the relative level of risk and public benefit associated with potentially sensitive, non-protected information so as to make a determination about whether and how to publish it;

  4. Establish processes for publishing and keeping up to date datasets to the Open Data Web Portal, including processes for ensuring that datasets are reviewed for use appropriate formats, quality, timeliness, and exclusion of protected and sensitive information;

  5. Develop and oversee the Open Data Web Portal platform.

  6. Ensure that – where possible – the automation of data publishing to ensure the most current data is available.

In order to increase and improve use of the City’s Open Data, the Open Data Advisory Group will actively encourage department and public participation through providing opportunities for 4 feedback and collaboration on the portal and through internal and public sessions.


The Open Data Advisory Group will be charged with developing and implementing a process for prioritizing the release of datasets to the Open Data Web Portal that takes into account the City’s programmatic priorities, new and existing signals of interest from the public (such as the frequency of FOIA requests), existing opportunities for data use in the public interest, and cost;

  1. Datasets identified as pertinent to measuring progress of the City’s Strategic Plan Goals will be given a high priority;

  2. Processes developed through the initial release of prioritized data will be continuously evaluated and replicated as part of an iterative process intended to expand to all City data over time, moving the City closer to the stated goal of proactive release of publishable data.


Within one year of the effective date of this Management Policy, and thereafter once per year, the Open Data Advisory Group shall submit to the City Manager and City Council an annual Open Data Report. The report shall include an assessment of progress towards achievement of the goals of the City’s Open Data program, a list of datasets currently available on the Open Data Web Portal, and a description and publication timeline for datasets envisioned to be published on the portal in the following year.

During the review and reporting period, the Open Data Advisory Group shall make recommendations for improving the City’s Open Data management processes in order to ensure that the City continues to move towards the achievement of this policy’s goals.

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