Open Data Policy Collection

Tempe, AZ

Administrative Regulation (Jul 24, 2017)

View original policy (PDF)

Sunlight provided assistance with the development of this policy.



The City of Tempe has established the Tempe Open Data Program to support Tempe’s commitment to expand both the data it makes available to the public and tools for understanding that data, while continuing to protect privacy, confidentiality, and security.

The Tempe Open Data Policy is established in accordance with the City Council Resolution executed on 24 February 2017. This policy defines the principles governing Tempe Open Data and describes the expectations for governance and departmental participation in the Tempe Open Data Program.


  • This policy applies to any city department, office or employee that creates, maintains or acquires Data on behalf of the city. The Tempe Open Data Policy applies to any City Department, Office, administrative unit, Commission, Board, advisory committee or other division of the City that creates, maintains or acquires information, records, or data on behalf of a City department that are reasonably related to the mission of the City or as defined by Arizona law.
  • This policy shall not be construed to eliminate any rights, protections or obligations the city may have under the Arizona Public Records laws.


Tempe is committed to transparency and considering public information open by default. The Open Data Policy and the processes outlined in the Open Data Handbook are meant to support City efforts to develop and implement practices that allow it to:

  • Define data and determine what data is open and what must be protected;
  • Treat data as a valuable asset;
  • Establish and maintain an Open Data Portal that provides a single location for published open data, metadata and visualizations; and,
  • Proactively publish open data and metadata relevant to the City’s programs, priorities or strategic goals, or that is identified as being a significant interest to the community.


a. “Data”: Includes narrative, textual, geospatial, tabular, legislative, statistical, factual, quantitative, or qualitative information that are created, maintained by or on behalf of the City of Tempe if in the possession of a city department, office or employee.

b. “Data Coordinator”: One or more employees designated by each department to serve as the coordinator and point of contact for that Department’s Open Data

c. “Data Owner”: Any City employee or group of employees who is responsible for one or more Departmental datasets

d. “Dataset”: 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. “Legal encumbrance”: Includes federal copyright protections and other, non- statutory legal limitations on how or under what conditions a dataset may be used, such as a terms of use agreement

f. “Metadata”: Basic information about Data including source, date created, and update schedule

g. “Open Data”: Specific documents, data or datasets, which are not sensitive or protected and that have been prepared for release to external users online, in an open format, with no legal encumbrances on use or reuse, and available for all to access and download in full without fees or a requirement of registration

h. “Open Data Governance”: City leaders, Directors and Managers that oversee the Committee implementation of the Open Data Program, including making policy decisions, prioritizing data publishing, resolving systemic issues, monitoring and mitigating risk and communicating success to the City and the public. Members are part of the Technology & Innovation Steering Sub-Committee or others designated by the City Manager

i. “Open Data Handbook”: Guide that defines the strategies and processes that City Departments can implement to make their data open within the City’s privacy and security policies, encourage public use, and realize benefits for their departments

j. “Open Data Manager”: City employee responsible for Tempe’s Open Data Program, who curates the data made available on the Open Data Portal and manages the Open Data Team. The IT Enterprise Data and Analytics Manager or other division designated by the City’s Chief Technology Officer

k. “Open Data Portal”: is the primary repository where the City’s published data will be cataloged and publically available online

l. “Open Data Program”: Program dedicated to making City of Tempe data available to the public through the Open Data Portal and engaging the community, civic technologists, the research community and other partners to make use of Tempe Open Data in support of the Program’s goals

m. “Open Data Team”: City employees who administer the Open Data Portal and provide technical, planning, review and coordination support to City Departments publishing open data

n. “Open Format”: Any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine-readable method for formatting data, which permits automated processing of such data and facilitates analysis and search capabilities

o. “Protected Information”: Any dataset or portion thereof to which an agency may deny access pursuant to A.R.S. 39-121 or any other applicable law, rule, regulation, court order or as otherwise required

p. “Publishable Data”: Data which is not protected by law or otherwise, or sensitive, proprietary or confidential information that has been prepared for release to external data users

q. “Sensitive Information”: Any data or datasets, which if published through the Tempe Open Data Program, violates privacy, confidentiality or security policies implemented by the City or have the potential to jeopardize public health, safety or welfare to an extent that is greater than the potential public benefit of publishing the data


The Open Data Program and Open Data Portal exist to:

  • Improve public understanding of City operations, key priorities and decisions, and information about their Communities;
  • Improve provision of prompt and efficient services to residents;
  • Increase transparency and accountability through access to public information;
  • Generate economic opportunity for individuals and companies that benefit from the knowledge generated by Open Data;
  • Empower City employees, Departments and partner organizations to be more effective and better coordinated internally to increase opportunities to serve the public;
  • Support better informed decision making through the aggregation, synthesis and analysis of data previously stored within departments;
  • Promote higher levels of civic engagement and citizen feedback to government officials regarding local issues;
  • Encourage innovative uses of public information and innovative technology solutions by City employees, partners and civic technologists;
  • Preserve City staff time and resources through proactive release of information sought through public records requests; and,
  • While supporting these public objectives, a priority of the Tempe Open Data Policy is to maintain the protection of privacy, confidentiality, and security.


1. Data as an Asset

A. The City of Tempe and any individuals or groups acting on behalf of the City will proactively make data available through the Open Data Portal subject to the limitations outlined in this policy and the procedures of the Open Data Program.

B. When planning for new systems or data collection projects, or modifying existing systems or processes, City departments and offices shall consider which datasets and associated metadata should be published as Open Data.

C. Whenever technically possible, Open Data shall be published in an open format that is any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine-readable method for formatting data, which permits automated processing of such data and facilitates analysis and search capabilities (for example, CSV, JSON, XML).

D. Whenever technically possible, provide data in a form appropriate for its use to increase accessibility.

E. Datasets on the Open Data Portal shall be made available without registration requirement, license requirement or restrictions on their use provided that the department may require a third party providing to the public any public data set, or application utilizing such data set, to explicitly identify the source and version of the public data set, and a description of any modifications made to such public data set.

F. While a preference is towards making all data public, some data elements if released, especially in bulk, could cause privacy harms, put critical infrastructure at risk, or put public safety personnel and initiatives at risk. City Departments and Offices should use tools provided by the Open Data Program Handbook to assess risk as part of determining datasets to be released.

G. All published data will be in primary forms, as collected at the source, with a level of disaggregation consistent with law, privacy, and public safety. Only minimal necessary filtering and aggregation will be used to mitigate identified legal, privacy, or public safety issues.

H. The requirements set forth in this policy shall be integrated into the evaluation of new technology or Request for Proposal (RFP) questionnaires and checklists to help facilitate consistent identification and publishing of datasets as the City plans for the implementation of new technologies and systems.

I. The requirements set forth in this policy shall be integrated into contracts with private companies that facilitate City operations. Unless otherwise stated in the contract, Tempe has the exclusive right to share, store or dispose of any data generated or created as part of these contracts. The City will seek to include standard language in these contracts to ensure these rights.

J. Should the Open Data Program discover that data is being used in ways that violate privacy, puts the public at risk, or contravene the Program’s goals, the City of Tempe and parties acting on its behalf have the right and responsibility to take any action necessary to mitigate these risks.

K. In developing the Open Data Program, the City Manager may, after considering the priority needs and financial resources of the City, request from the City Council additional funds, if necessary, to support the Program and the Portal

2. Responsibilities

City Departments and Office Directors shall:

A. Direct department Data Owners to make the department’s data and accompanying metadata available to the public on the City’s Open Data Portal, subject to the limitations outlined in this policy and the operating procedures of the Open Data Program.

B. Direct department Data Owners to ensure that department data made open to the public adheres to the City’s privacy, security, retention and public disclosure policies and standards.

C. Designate an Open Data Coordinator in each department who shall serve as the point of contact and coordinator for that department’s publishing of Open Data.

D. Annually establish goals for department data to be made open, and make attainment of those goals part of the performance evaluation for the City.

E. Work with the Open Data Team to assess performance and attainment of the Open Data Program’s goals.

3. Institutionalizing the Open Data Program

In partnership with the Open Data Team and coordinated by their Open Data Coordinator, each City Department and Office shall:

A. Work with the Open Data Team to publish data sets classified as “public” and that have been prioritized for public disclosure. Prior to publication, each Department shall ensure that data is published with at least minimum relevant documentation, adheres to applicable rules of the Tempe Open Data Handbook, and follows - if possible, practical and available - commonly used standards for that type of data.

B. Presume that data it creates, collects or maintains–including data created, collected, or maintained on the department’s behalf through contract with a third party–shall be made open to the public subject to the limitations set forth in the City’s open data, privacy, security, retention and disclosure policies and standards.

C. Establish processes to identify which datasets should be published on the Open Data Portal, assess potential privacy risks, and streamline the routine publication of that data in the most open format possible, consistent with the City’s privacy and security policies.

D. Develop a data inventory detailing the Department’s data holdings, which further identifies and prioritizes datasets to be made public, while setting specific goals and timelines for the publication of datasets as Open Data. Department data inventories shall be combined into a master Tempe data catalog, which shall be made publicly viewable.

E. Make data and accompanying metadata open in a machine-readable form that adheres to metadata guidelines provided in the Tempe Open Data Handbook. This will allow the Open Data Program to increase discoverability and facilitate successful use of the data.

F. Make datasets published to the Open Data Portal available to the public on an open license basis. An open license on a dataset signifies there are no restrictions on copying, publishing, further distributing, modifying or using the data for a noncommercial or commercial purpose.

G. Provide a citation format appropriate to each dataset published based on guidance contained in the Open Data Handbook.

H. Ensure that data and metadata made open to the public is accurate, updated and well documented. Data and metadata shall be updated as often as is necessary to preserve the integrity and usefulness of the data set.

I. With input from stakeholders such as boards, commissions, and community members, develop a prioritized list of existing datasets to be made open.

J. Work with the Open Data Team to set appropriately ambitious timelines for the publication of datasets.

4. Administration and Operation

The Open Data Program shall:

A. Maintain the Open Data Policy and related procedures, the documents that govern the City’s Open Data Program; review these documents, and update them as necessary, no less frequently than annually; and drive approval of these documents through the Chief Technology Officer.

B. Ensure that datasets published to the Open Data Portal are available in machine- readable formats that permit processing of the data for download through an automated programming interface (API) or bulk download.

C. Maintain a master Tempe open data catalog that lists all available datasets.

D. Ensure that departments have assessed datasets published to the Open Data Platform to identify the risk of privacy harm in accordance with the City’s Privacy Principles and Policy and in the context of datasets already available to the public.

  • i. When privacy or security risks are identified, work with departmental Open Data Coordinators and departments to mitigate the risks;
  • ii. Escalate those datasets determined to have risk of privacy harm to the Open Data Governance Committee for review and approval; and,
  • iii. Work with the Open Data Governance Committee to produce templates, risk assessments, and other tools to mitigate privacy risk.

E. Work with departments to ensure that data published through the Open Data Program adheres to the open data, security, retention and public disclosure policies and standards.

F. Communicate City of Tempe open data policies and standards to department management and Open Data Coordinators.

G. Review and approve each dataset prior to its initial publication to the Open Data Portal.

H. Document the process for reviewing new Open Data requests, including who approved or denied the request and the rationale, and make the rationale available to the public.

I. Provide training and support for department Open Data Coordinators.

J. Perform an annual risk assessment of both the Open Data Program and the content available on the Open Data Portal. The outcome of this review shall be shared with the Open Data Coordinators, who will help implement risk mitigation strategies.

K. Annually update and publish the Open Data Plan based on recommendations and requirements solicited from elected officials, department management, department Open Data Coordinators, business partners and members of the public. The Open Data Plan shall include:

  • i. Plan for the upcoming year to improve online public access to Open Data and maintain data quality;
  • ii. Description and proposed publication timeline for datasets envisioned to be published on the portal in the upcoming year;
  • iii. Proposals for improving the City’s Open Data Management Processes that help advance our open data policy goals;
  • iv. Recommendation on historical document inclusion and schedule for approved historical document publication;
  • v. Identification of any anticipated costs associated with operating the Open Data Program, including any proposed changes, for the upcoming fiscal year; and,
  • vi. Identification of any foreseeable factors, which may affect the Open Data Program in the upcoming year.

L. Publish an annual Open Data report, which shall include:

  • i. Assessment of progress towards achievement of the goals described in the Open Data Plan for the previous year;
  • ii. List of datasets currently available on the Open Data Portal;
  • iii. Assessment of the current level of City compliance to the Open Data Policy; and,
  • iv. Suggestions for improving the City’s Open Data Management Process.

5. Stakeholder Engagement

The Open Data Program shall:

A. Implement a mechanism or mechanisms to solicit public feedback and encourage discussion on policies and public datasets available on the Open Data Portal.

B. Consider requests received through such mechanisms when prioritizing datasets for release, and incorporate these recommendations into the annual Open Data plan.

6. Roles and Responsibilities

A. Open Data Manager

Assisted by the Open Data Team, the Open Data Manager is responsible for the City of Tempe’s Open Data Program and the data made public by the City.

Responsibilities include:

  • i. Establish, and oversee maintenance of, a Data Catalog as part of the Open Data Portal to manage the City’s open data;
  • ii. Coordinate regular reviews of the Data Catalog and work with departments and Data Coordinators to ensure that data are classified properly;
  • iii. Ensure that the Open Data Program, and the data made public by the program, adhere to this policy, and to the Open Data Handbook;
  • iv. Hold regular meetings with the Open Data Coordinators to provide program updates and guidance, and to solicit suggestions for how the program can grow and improve; and,
  • v. Participate in events such as community forums, hackathons, and webinars to promote Open Data and the City’s Open Data Program in particular.

B. Department Open Data Coordinators

City Departments shall identify one or more Open Data Coordinator(s) who shall serve as the point of contact and coordinator for the department’s Open Data.

Responsibilities shall include:

  • i. Gather and maintain a comprehensive inventory of datasets collected, created, or maintained by the department, including data created, collected, or maintained on the department’s behalf through contract with a third party;
  • ii. Document and publish data creation processes for each dataset;
  • iii. Evaluate the suitability of those datasets for publishing to the Open Data Portal using guidance established in the open data handbook;
  • iv. Prioritize the data to be published according to prioritization guidelines defined by the Open Data Program;
  • v. Maintain an inventory of Open Data published by the Department;
  • vi. Ensure that departmental data is produced in an open format in machine- readable form (if technically possible);
  • vii. Ensure the publication of Open Data according to defined timelines;
  • viii. Ensure Open Data published by the department is accurate and current;
  • ix. Coordinate the publication of their department’s Open Data with the Open Data Team; and,
  • x. Track and respond to questions and dataset requests from the public.

C. Open Data Governance Committee

The Open Data Governance Committee shall:

  • i. Maintain a list of, and regularly engage, community stakeholders to identify opportunities to collaborate with the public to solve community problems;
  • ii. Participate in events such as community forums, webinars, and speaking engagements to promote Open Data and the City’s Open Data Program in particular;
  • iii. Serve as the arbiter of any questions or issues concerning Open Data privacy risk and solutions for minimizing the risk of privacy harm in keeping with applicable law;
  • iv. Resolve questions or issues regarding open data privacy risk from the Open Data Manager or Departments;
  • v. Designate the authoritative data source for key City data; and,
  • vi. Participate in the annual risk assessment for the Open Data Program defined in Section 4J.

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