PG Sittenfeld, Scott Stiles roll out new 'open data' policy plans for city

Aiming for transparency

CINCINNATI -- City leaders announced Tuesday plans to roll out a new "open data" policy that would allow the city to become more transparent.

Transparency, boasted by Mayor John Cranley on numerous occasions, is what administration members say they're aiming for --  and the new policy plans will be the first of their kind in Ohio.

Councilman PG Sittenfeld and City Manager Scott Stiles announced their "invitation for innovation" plan which allows for liberated, city data to be readily available to the public. It's an idea sparked by the Haile Foundation and set in motion by Stiles and Sittenfeld. 

The new open data policy will allow for the average Cincinnatian to view and use city databases and information on OpenDataCincy.org  without having to go through specific departments. The City Communication Director, Margo Springs, said the project will be a way for citizens to connect.

"It's about transparency. It's about accountability. It's about accessibility," Springs said.

City officials said there will be one database launched for each of the 17 departments as a trial run to see how the information is received. 

Other cities across the U.S., such as Boston and New York City , have already launched their open data sites. These government sites allow residents to start collaborative projects, search maps, review city performance records and access civil databases.

Springs couldn't comment on what type of information will be available on Cincinnati's database, however OpenDataCincy has already begun to showcase some city data.

Information like job outlooks, city expenditures, non-emergency service requests and census population can currently be found on the website. But, before more data is uploaded to the site, project leaders need to deliberate on what's safe and appropriate to make publicly available.

"We're taking the fear out of it," Stiles said.

Over the next few weeks, Sittenfeld and Stiles will work to ensure the information does not "compromise security" for the city or any resident.

After the first set of databases are launched on OpenDataCincy, developers will work on creating a portal to funnel data into the city website. 

There has been no dates announced for when the city plans to unleash their first database.

"This policy ushers in a new era of transparency and will also enable entrepreneurs to turn the city's vast data into innovations that add real value to citizens lives and can also help government be more efficient," Sittenfeld said.
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