Open Data Policy Collection

West Sacramento, CA

Internal policy (Oct 16, 2013)

View original policy

Highlight text matching an Open Data Policy Guideline:


MEETING DATE: October 16, 2013 ITEM # 7



This reports requests that the City Council adopt Resolution 13-95 to establish an open data framework and approve the contract with a preferred vendor to commence the City’s open data initiative.


It is respectfully recommended that the City Council:

1. Adopt Resolution 13-95 (Attachment 1) establishing the City’s open data framework

2. Adopt the attached draft Open Data Policy

3. Approve and authorize the Mayor to execute a one year contract with Socrata to implement and host the City’s open data website in substantially the form attached to this report.


The idea behind open data is simple: any information collected and owned by the government should be made freely available for use, reuse and redistribution by the public. Open data initiatives are transforming the way governments across the country interact with their communities and are promoting civic engagement through transparency and accountability.

Open data is much more than just making data available to the public; it’s about transforming the way we think about data, how it’s collected, used, published, and maintained. It’s a unique opportunity to look at the data we have and realize that this data could be utilized outside of the walls of City Hall to help solve problems for both the City and its constituents. It’s about putting the data in the hands of the citizens, developers, entrepreneurs and letting them analyze and visualize the data for their own needs and purposes.

While the movement towards open data is widespread, there are only a handful of local municipalities across the country that actually have an open data strategy in place. This includes major cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, which are already seeing the benefit of open data through the reduction in number of record act requests, an explosion of mobile apps utilizing City data to help the public, and a general increase in civic engagement.

There are hundreds of applications that utilize open data to provide value to the community. In New York, taxi cab drivers can now use that city’s open data platform to access information about the status of their licenses more quickly than ever, which keeps more taxis on the road. Cook County Illinois has a budget transparency application called “Look at Cook,” which allows community members to explore the County’s budget to see for themselves how their tax dollars are being spent. The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department has produced a mobile application that allows users to find just the amenity they are looking for, from museums to dog parks, and to display them on a GPS-enabled mobile map. The possibilities are endless.


The innovative uses of open data in the cutting-edge cities above are based on a common set of practices that the City can emulate as it begins to develop its own open data initiative. In order to have a successful open data program, the City will need to establish the following items:

Open Data Policy

Open Data Advisory Group

Open Data Portal

Open Data Policy

The City will need to create an open data policy that outlines what data sets should be made public, how to make the data sets available, and how to maintain the data sets. Attachment 2 is a draft of such a policy. Initial efforts should focus on publishing data that is beneficial and for which there is public demand. The data the City publishes should help increase the City’s accountability, efficiency, responsiveness and/or delivery of services. The data should also help improve public knowledge of the City and its operations, further the mission of the City, and/or creates economic opportunity.

Open Data Advisory Group

The City will need to establish an open data advisory group, with representatives from each department, to help implement and determine the following based on the framework of the City’s open data policy:

Identify data sets that are already available, and who they are maintained by

Prioritize datasets based on levels of public interest and the value of the data to the community

Review the data for accuracy, and when appropriate have the data cleaned and confidential information redacted.

Modification of the open data policy, as needed, to ensure alignment with the City’s open data goals.

Open Data Portal

A key component of any open data project is the data portal. The data portal will be the conduit for delivering data sets to the public. The data portal should accomplish the following objectives:

All data sets published shall use a format that permits processing of the data through an automated programming interface (API).

Use appropriate technology to notify the public of updates to the data

All data sets should be accessible to external search capabilities, such as Google, etc.

Provide an online forum to solicit feedback from the public and to encourage public discussion on open data policies and data set availability. This feedback will then be used by the open data advisory group to guide future open data set additions.

Open data is a relatively new area of technology and the playing field is relatively small when it comes to options for publishing data. There are three viable alternatives when it comes to creating an open data portal:

1. Build in-house with existing development staff using open source technology (such as CKAN or DKAN).

2. Hire a consultant to develop the open data platform that is then maintained in-house on City servers.

3. Purchase a subscription with a leading Open Data platform provider to host, serve, sync and visualize City data.

While options 1 and 2 are viable, they eventually become a drain on City resources. The upfront cost for these options are high, due to the staff time needed and/or cost of the consultant to implement; implementation and go-live will also take longer due to extended development time.

Staff recommends Option 3. This approach provides the fastest path to implementation, because the City would be utilizing a system already in place, which eliminates development time. It also decreases internal support costs because tech support, upgrades and improvements to the system are provided by the vendor.

Staff researched various open data vendors (i.e. hosted CKAN, Junar, Socrata, etc.) looking for the most attractive combination of price point, implementation time frame, and software feature set. Based on this research, Socrata is clearly the leader. Chicago, San Francisco, and New York all use Socrata for their open data portals. Socrata focuses on letting the user view and manipulate the data online. Users also have the option of downloading the data is various formats (csv, excel, xml, etc.) Socrata’ system also adheres to the data portal objectives outlined above. Each data set published or each custom data view created is available via an API, which make processing this information by outside developers easier and efficient.

Open data is the future and by approving resolution 13-95 and partnering with Socrata, the City will take its first steps in becoming a leader in open data in the Sacramento Region. .

Strategic Plan Integration

The recommended actions support the City’s goal of “Municipal/Technology Innovations” by making City data more transparent and open to our community.


The options are discussed in some detail in the Analysis section of the report. The Council could choose to move forward with staff’s recommendation, ask for more information or delay the project.

Coordination and Review

Research for this report was conducted by IT staff. Staff in other departments was also consulted.

Budget/Cost Impact

The $19,997 contract can be accommodated in the IT budget and therefore there will be no additional fiscal impact to the existing budget.


1. Resolution 13-95

2. Draft Open Data Administrative Policy

3. Socrata Data Portal Contract



WHEREAS, the City of West Sacramento is committed to creating an unprecedented level of transparency, honesty and accountability to the public in City government; and</p>

WHEREAS, timely and consistent publication of public information and data is an essential component of an open and effective government; and

WHEREAS, by sharing data freely, citizens are enabled to use and re-purpose it to help create a more economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable city; and

WHEREAS, publishing structured standardized data in a machine readable formats creates new opportunities for data from different sources to be combined and visualized in new and unexpected ways; and

WHEREAS, digital innovation can enhance citizen communications, support the brand of the city as creative and innovative, improve service delivery, support citizens to self-organize and solve their own problems, and create a stronger sense of civic engagement, community, and pride; and

WHEREAS, the City of West Sacramento seeks to encourage the local software community to develop software applications and tools to collect, organize, and share public data in new and innovative ways.</span>

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of West Sacramento endorses the principles of:

Open Standards — the City of West Sacramento will move as quickly as possible to adopt prevailing open standards for data, documents, maps, and other formats of media;

Open and Accessible Data - the City of West Sacramento will freely share the greatest amount of data possible with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions while respecting privacy and security concerns; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in furtherance of the Council’s goal of maximizing the amount of City data available to the public, the City Manager is hereby directed to develop and implement an administrative policy to create City-wide standards for the implementation of the City’s Open Data effort.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 16th day of October, 2013



DATE: October 10, 2013

AUTHORITY: City Manager


The purpose of this policy is to set guidelines for incorporating an open data framework into existing systems and procedures and to aid in determining what data sets should be made public, how to make the data sets available, and how to maintain the existing published data sets.


1. Definitions

“Data” means final versions of statistical or factual information that (i) are in alphanumeric form reflected in a list, table, graph, chart or other non-narrative form, that can be digitally transmitted or processed; and (ii) are regularly created or maintained by or on behalf of a city agency and are controlled by such city agency; and (iii) record a measurement, transaction or determination related to the mission of an agency. The term “data” shall not include information provided to an agency by other governmental entities or image files, such as designs, drawings, photos or scanned copies of original documents; provided, however, that the term “data” shall include statistical or factual information about image files and geographic information system (GIS) data.

“Data set” means a named collection of related records on a storage device, with the collection containing data organized or formatted in a specific or prescribed way, often in tabular form, and accessed by a specific method that is based on the data set organization.

Data portal” means the Internet site established and maintained by or on behalf of the City, located at or its successor website.

“Open data advisory group” means the advisory group established to further the City’s open data initiative.

Protected data” means any data set or portion thereof to which the city may deny access pursuant to any applicable law regarding said data set.

2. Open Data Advisory Group</p>

a. The City will establish an open data advisory group, which will be chaired by the information Technology Manager and include open data coordinators from all city departments.

b. Each city department will designate an open data coordinator, who shall serve and contribute to the open data advisory group.

c. The open data advisory group shall carry out the data set goals outlined in section 3.</span>

3. Data Sets

a. The rules and standards for publication of data sets shall be consistent with applicable law, including laws related to privacy and accessibility.


c. To the extent feasible, all published data sets shall be presented and structured in a format that permits automated processing.

d. For purposes of identifying data sets for inclusion on the City of West Sacramento’s data portal, The open data advisory group will consider the following:</p>

i. Whether the information embodied in the data set is reliable and accurate and is frequently the subject of a written request for public records and is of the type that is required to make available for inspection or copying;</span></span></span></span>

ii. The data set helps increase the City’s accountability, efficiency, responsiveness or delivery of services;</p>

iii. The data set improves public knowledge of the City and its operations, furthers the mission of the City, and/or creates economic opportunity.</span></span>

e. Each department will assure that data supplied to the City by third parties (developers, contractors, consultants) are unlicensed, in a prevailing open standard format, and not copyrighted except if otherwise prevented by legal considerations.

f. Each city department shall make reasonable and appropriate efforts to update its public data on a regular basis to preserve the integrity and usefulness of the data sets.

g. To the maximum extent allowed by law, published data sets shall be made available without any registration requirement, license requirement or restrictions on their use.

h. All public data sets shall be made available with the descriptive information needed to understand what the data is, how and when it was collected and last updated.

4. City of West Sacramento Data Portal

A single web portal shall be established and maintained by or on behalf of the City of West Sacramento. lt will be administered by the City’s Information Technology Division and will be located at

Any data set made accessible on the City’s data portal shall use a format that permits automated processing of such data; use appropriate technology to notify the public of updates to the data; and will be accessible to external search capabilities.

The City’s data portal will provide and an online forum to solicit feedback from the public and to encourage public discussion on open data policies and data set availability.

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