Open Data Policy Collection

Greensboro, NC

Administrative Policy (Oct 7, 2016)

View original policy (PDF)

Sunlight provided assistance with the development of this policy.

The City of Greensboro’s OPEN DATA POLICY

City of Greensboro, NC

Information Technology Department

Policy Name: Open Data Policy

Document Reference Number: GSO-ITOPS-PM008

Version: 1.0

Effective from: Date of Signature by the City Manager


The purpose of the City of Greensboro’s Open Data Policy is to provide guidelines and to implement best practices for City employees in the distribution of open data and the implementation of open data projects.

This policy applies to all City departments, employees, or others working on behalf of the City who are responsible for implementing open data related activities.


Data – A value or set of values that represents a specific concept or concepts. Data becomes information when analyzed and possibly combined with other data in order to extract meaning and provide context.

Data Governance Standards – an overarching set of best practices, procedures, and processes that define the vision and daily operation of an open data program, roles and responsibilities of leadership and data coordinators within the program, a method for identifying and prioritizing datasets for publishing and continuous updating, and a means for evaluating success of the open data program for improvement.

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.

Metadata – is “data that provides information about other data”. Two types of metadata exist: structural metadata and descriptive metadata. Structural metadata is data about the containers of data. Descriptive metadata uses individual instances of application data or the data content.

Open Data – Public records as defined by NCGS-132 and provided in a convenient, modifiable form such that there are no unnecessary technological obstacles to the use of the data. For the purposes of this policy, open data is made machine readable via Application Programming Interfaces (API), available in bulk, and provided in an open format such as a .CSV file. Greensboro’s open data is generated and maintained by the City, openly shared, and available to the public in accordance with public records laws.

Open Data Leadership Team – as defined by the data governance standards document is an empowered body of people representing the governance committee and shall consist of municipality executive leadership and inclusive of inputs from the public. This body will ensure adherence to the data governance standards established and will serve to modify those standards as necessary to ensure best practices can be achieved in an ever-changing technological or consumer environment.

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.

Portal – a means, usually a technology application, for transmitting open data for use, reuse, and redistribution.

Publishable Data – data which is not protected or sensitive and which can be prepared for release to the public.

Defining the Vision of the Greensboro’s Open Data Program and Initiatives

Open data created and maintained by the City of Greensboro is a public good and should be released to and leveraged in service of Greensboro’s residents, businesses, and institutions. Greensboro’s Open Data Program is a set of systems, technologies, and policies for maximizing the value of Greensboro’s data.

The open data program increases the value of city data by:

  • Releasing data in service of transparency and community engagement, so that residents understand what their city is doing.
  • Enabling city staff and the public to use the data in analyses and software applications that help Greensboro deliver services more efficiently.
  • Providing businesses and other organizations with relevant data at no cost, so that Greensboro continues to maintain a thriving local economy.
  • Removing silos between city departments, thereby fostering data-sharing and enabling efficiency improvements for city service delivery.

Greensboro’s Open Data Program is intended to increase community engagement, economic well-being, internal data sharing, data-driven decision-making, and government transparency. These outcomes are the result of efforts by the open data program and its stakeholders to supply city data and market it both internally and externally. Note that these outcomes are also affected by numerous intervening factors such as other city activities, city finances, and the state of the economy. More immediate outcomes of the open data program include an awareness of open data among both city staff and the public, as well as consistent growth of the supply of data.

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

(1) Release all potential open City data, making it freely available in open formats without any licensing fees, with no restrictions on use or reuse, and fully accessible to the broadest range of users to use for varying purposes;

(2) Publish high quality, updated data with documentation (metadata) and permanence to encourage maximal use;

(3) Establish and maintain an open data web portal that provides a central location for published City data;

(4) Encourage innovative uses of the City’s publishable data by departments, the public, and other partners.

The development and implementation of these best practices shall be overseen by the Open Data Leadership Team. The requirements of this policy shall apply to any City Department, office, administrative unit, commission, board, advisory committee or other division/department of the City government including the records of third party agency contractors that create or acquire information, records, or data on behalf of a City division/department.

The City of Greensboro’s respective departments will develop and implement best practices that allow it to:

(1) Through the continued creation and implementation of the open data program provide open data and metadata that fosters;

  • Transparency and Accountability in local government activities;
  • Civic/Community Engagement;
  • Confidence in City management and governance of data;
  • Ability of third parties to leverage government data through application and service development that may bolster economic development, commerce, investment, and civic engagement;
  • Provisioning of prompt, efficient services to residents providing the data behind key City priorities and decisions;
  • Enhanced coordination and efficiencies among City Departments and partner organizations;
  • Better informed decision making through the aggregation, synthesis, and analysis of Information previously contained in silos.

(2) Departments must also ensure that disseminated data, and all tools used to disseminate it, adhere to all standing City policies and standards, as well as applicable laws. Examples of applicable policies, standards, and laws include;

  • Communication standards – all data and tools used to disseminate open data must maintain corporate standards in the use of City logos.
  • Best practices – Management of an Open Data Portal shall meet best practices for maintaining data, such as timely and consistent publication.
  • Political activity – any open data or open data tool shall not contain any political information or be used for political activities by City employees.
  • Internet security policies – The sites will comply with City policies and procedures for information security.
  • Conduct – City policies, rules, regulations and standards of conduct apply to employees that engage in open data activities while conducting City business.
  • Privacy – Use of open data shall comply with the privacy policy mandated by the City of Greensboro and use all privacy protection laws to protect the employee and citizen privacy and confidential information the City maintains.
  • Other laws – Open data and related tools such as websites and portals shall adhere to all copyright, public records, retention, fair use and financial disclosure laws and other laws as applicable.
  • Third Party Citations – Citations of vendors, suppliers, clients, citizens, coworkers or other stakeholders may not be provided without their explicit permission.

Roles and Responsibilities

(1) The Open Data Program will be overseen by the Open Data Leadership Team, comprised of representatives from The City Manager’s Office or designee(s), internal City of Greensboro’s respective departments, and inclusive of inputs from the public;

(2) The Open Data Program Manager will work with the City of Greensboro’s respective departments to Identify data coordinators who will identify potential open datasets, upload data to the Open Data Portal, contextualize datasets with descriptive metadata, explain or cite how the data was created, provide unique identifiers for entities they reference the most, provide code sharing, and periodically update the data based on internal and external needs;

(3) The Open Data Program will Identify an Open Data Program Manager who will help to define and execute the vision of the open data program, set priorities, outline policies, manage departmental participation, and coordinate the open data program’s technical systems and organizational processes.

(4) The Open Data Program Manager and the Departmental Data Coordinators will oversee the creation of a comprehensive inventory of potential open datasets held by each department which is published to the Open Data Portal and regularly updated;

(5) The Open Data Program Manager will develop technical requirements for publishing public datasets by department;

(6) The Open Data Program Manager will develop and implement a process for prioritizing the release of datasets to the Open Data Portal which takes into account new and existing signals of interest from the public, the City’s programmatic priorities, existing opportunities for data use in the public interest, and costs;

(7) The Open Data Program Manager will establish processes for publishing datasets to the Open Data Portal, including processes for ensuring that datasets are reviewed for use-appropriate formats, applicable citations of sources when required, quality, timeliness, and exclusion of protected and sensitive information;

(8) The Open Data Program Manager will develop and oversee a routinely updated, public timeline for new dataset publication;

(9) The Open Data Program Manager will ensure that published datasets are available for download.

(10) The Open Data Program Manager and the Departmental Open Data Coordinators will establish for each dataset frequencies to refresh the data (either manually or preferably by an automated process) based on internal and external need.

(11) The Open Data Program will create and explore potential future partnerships that enable efforts related to data release, increase the availability of open data, identifying constituent priorities for data release, and connecting government information to that held by non-profits, think tanks, academic institutions, and nearby governments.

(12) To optimize data quality and timeliness disclosure, every attempt will be made to collect or record information in electronic of digitized format over hard copy.


In conjunction with this open data policy, a data governance standards document has been created and upon resolution will be adopted and adhered to as an overarching set of best practices, procedures, and processes that define the vision and daily operation of an open data program, defined and detailed roles and responsibilities of leadership and data coordinators within the program, a method for identifying and prioritizing datasets for publishing and continuous updating, and a means for evaluating success of the open data program for improvement. The Data Governance Standards document is an attachment to this policy and can be located at http://citynet/MyTools/Pages/Document-Central.aspx and click on Library: Policies and Procedures.

The Open Data Leadership Team shall submit an annual Open Data Report to the City Manager’s Office by the end of year fiscal year beginning in 2017. The report shall include an assessment of progress towards achievement of the goals of the City’s Open Data Program, an assessment of the current scope of department compliance, a list of datasets currently available on the Open Data 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 Leadership Team should also make suggestions for improving the City’s open data management processes to ensure that the City continues to move towards the achievement of the Policy’s goals.

The City of Greensboro will also maintain an Open Data Portal where the City’s publishable data will be publicly available. The Open Data Portal will be maintained by the City of Greensboro’s Information Technology Department and will advise the Open Data Leadership Team on best practices for open data related projects and the requirements of this policy. Additionally, the Information Technology Department will assist in the implementation of open data projects through the Open Data Program Manager and serve as the liaison with each respective internal department’s open data coordinators.

(1) Datasets published on the Open Data Portal shall be placed into the public domain. Dedicating datasets to the public domain means that there are no restrictions or requirements placed on the use of these datasets;

(2) The City of Greensboro will assume no liability for the following: errors, omissions or inaccuracies in the public data provided on the Open Data Portal regardless of how caused, decisions made or actions taken by anyone using or relying upon such public data; or any virus or other damage to any computer that might occur during or as a result of accessing such portal or the public data therein. The data provided via the portal are not the legal record of data but a selected subset for public use, transparency, and in support of city initiatives to provide the residents of Greensboro with information generated from city services. The City of Greensboro retains the right to remove data from the portal in situations that may include but are not limited to an issue of accuracy, outdated information, or legal issues require removal; application developers who use these datasets recognize that the data tables may be removed or updated as warranted.

(3) The Open Data portal and all public data published on the portal shall be subject to the terms of use developed by the Information Technology Department. Such terms of use shall be posted by the Information Technology Department in a conspicuous place on the Open Data Portal. The City shall reserve the right to discontinue availability of content on the Open Data Portal at any time and for any reason.

Enforcement and Questions Regarding this Policy

The City Manager’s Office will enforce this policy as required through processes and procedures outlined herein and as outlined in the Data Governance Standards document. Questions regarding this policy can be directed to the City of Greensboro’s IT Open Data Program Manager, Mr. Jason Marshall at: 336-373-3342.

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