Open Data Policy Collection

Evanston, IL

Council Resolution (Oct 23, 2017)

View original policy (PDF)


A RESOLUTION Approving an Open Data Policy for the City of Evanston

WHEREAS, much of the data collected by the City of Evanston (“City”) is stored in ways which impede the ability to aggregate, analyze and synthesize it to better allocate public resources; and

WHEREAS, access to public information promotes a higher level of civic engagement and allows citizens to provide valuable feedback to government officials regarding local issues; and

WHEREAS, every community member has the right to prompt, efficient service from the government; and

WHEREAS, the thoughtful implementation of an open data program improves provision of services, increases transparency and access to public information, and enhances coordination and efficiencies among departments, partner organizations and citizens; and

WHEREAS, one goal of an Open Data policy is to proactively provide information currently sought through public records requests, thereby saving the City time and money; and

WHEREAS, in commitment to the spirit of Open Government, the City will consider public information to be open wherever possible and will proactively publish data and data containing information, consistent with relevant public records law; and

WHEREAS, information technologies, including web-based and other Internet applications and services, are an essential means for Open Government, and good government generally; and

WHEREAS, by publishing structured standardized data in machine readable formats the City seeks to encourage the local civic technology community to develop civic applications and tools to collect, organize, and share public record data in new and innovative ways; 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.


SECTION 1: The City Council hereby adopts the City of Evanston Open Data Policy attached as Exhibit A.

SECTION 2: This Resolution shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage and approval in the manner provided by law.

Stephen H. Hagerty, Mayor

Attest: Devon Reid, City Clerk

Adopted: October 23, 2017

EXHIBIT A: The City of Evanston Open Data Policy

The City of Evanston

Open Data Policy

Section 1: Definitions

  1. “Data” means statistical, factual, quantitative, or qualitative information that is maintained or curated by or on behalf of an Evanston agency.

  2. “Open data” means data that is available online, in an open format, with no legal encumbrances on use or reuse, and is available for all to access and download in full without fees.

  3. “Legal encumbrance” includes federal copyright protections and other, non-statutory legal limitations on how or under what conditions a dataset may be used. This definition is also inclusive of any software source code made available online (“open source software”).

  4. “Open format” means any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine-readable data format, which permits automated processing of such data and facilitates analysis and search capabilities.

  5. “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.

  6. “Protected information” means any dataset or portion thereof to which an agency may deny access pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq., or any other law or rule or regulation.

  7. “Sensitive information” means any data which, if published by the City of Evanston online, 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.

  8. “Publishable data” means data which is not protected or sensitive and which has been prepared for release to the public.

Section 2: Open Data Program

  1. The City of Evanston commits to develop and implement practices that will allow it to:

A. Proactively release all publishable Evanston data, making it freely available in appropriately varied and useful open formats, using an open license with no restrictions on use or reuse, and fully accessible to the broadest range of users to use for varying purposes;

B. Publish high quality, updated data with documentation (“metadata”) and permanence to encourage maximum use;

C. Measure the effectiveness of datasets made available through the Open Data Program by connecting open data efforts to the City of Evanston’s programmatic priorities;

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

E. Support innovative uses of the City of Evanston’s publishable data by agencies, the public, and other partners.

  1. The development and implementation of these practices shall be overseen by the City Manager or his/her designee.

  2. The requirements of this Open Data Policy shall apply to any City of Evanston department, office, administrative unit, commission, board, advisory committee or other division of the City of Evanston government (“agency”), including the records of third party agency contractors that create or acquire information, records, or data on behalf of a Evanston agency.

Section 3: Governance

  1. Implementation of the Open Data Program will be overseen by the City Manager or his/her designee, who will work with the City of Evanston’s departments and agencies to:

A. Identify and publish appropriate contact information for each lead open data steward who will be responsible for managing that department’s or agency’s participation in the Open Data Program;

B. Oversee the creation of a comprehensive inventory of datasets held by each City of Evanston agency which is published to the central open data location and is regularly updated;

C. 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;

D. Develop and implement a process for prioritizing the release of datasets which takes into account new and existing signals of interest from the public (such as the frequency of public records requests), the City of Evanston’s programmatic priorities, existing opportunities for data use in the public interest, and cost;

E. Proactively consult with members of the public, agency staff, journalists, researchers, and other stakeholders to identify the datasets which will have the greatest benefit to Evanston residents if published in a high quality manner;

F. Establish processes for publishing datasets to the central open data location, including processes for ensuring that datasets are high quality, up-to-date, are in use-appropriate formats, and exclude protected and sensitive information;

G. Ensure that appropriate metadata is provided for each dataset in order to facilitate its use;

H. Develop and oversee a routinely updated, public timeline for new dataset publication;

I. Make recommendations for historical document inclusion and define a schedule for approved historical document publication; and

J. Ensure that published datasets are available for bulk download and/or available via public application programming interfaces (“APIs”) without legal encumbrance.

  1. In order to increase and improve use of the City of Evanston’s open data, the City Manager or his/her designee will actively encourage agency and public participation through providing regular opportunities for feedback and collaboration.

Section 4: Central Online Location for Published Data

  1. The City of Evanston has created and will maintain an Open Data Portal at where the City of Evanston’s published data will be available for download.

  2. Published datasets shall be placed into the public domain. Dedicating datasets to the public domain means that there are no restrictions or requirements placed on use of these datasets.

  3. Each published dataset should be associated with contact information for the appropriate manager of that dataset as well as with a file layout or data dictionary that provides information about field labels and values.

  4. Evanston departments will specify a recommended data citation form available for viewing on the central online location for published Evanston data to encourage responsible reuse of Evanston data.

Section 5: Open Data Report and Review

  1. Within one year of the effective date of this Open Data Policy, and thereafter no later than after January 1st of each year, the City Manager or his/her designee shall publish an annual Open Data Report. The report shall include an assessment of progress towards achievement of the goals of the City of Evanston’s Open Data Program, an assessment of how the City of Evanston’s open data work has furthered or will further the City of Evanston’s programmatic priorities, and a description and publication timeline for datasets envisioned to be published by the City of Evanston in the following year.

  2. During the review and reporting period, the City Manager or his/her designee should also make suggestions for improving the City of Evanston’s open data management processes in order to ensure that the City of Evanston continues to move towards the achievement of the policy’s goals.

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