NEW ORLEANS – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an executive order establishing an Open Data Policy, which will institute citywide standards for collecting, maintaining and cataloging data that is free and open to the public.
“When I took office in 2010, I committed to making City government more efficient, open and transparent so that our residents could hold us accountable,” said Mayor Landrieu. “From establishing the City’s Office of Performance and Accountability to launching online tools like BlightStatus, NoticeMe, Roadwork.nola.gov and Data.nola.gov, the City of New Orleans is leading the way in providing the public the information it needs. This executive order is the next step in delivering on the promise we made to our residents and in shaping the future New Orleans for generations to come.”
Since 2012, the City has been using open data – data made freely available to the public – to solve difficult problems and aid internal decision making. Early in the City’s fight against blight, data associated with blight cases were made publicly available to citizens to analyze, allowing for frustrating situations to be discussed and solved together. This collaboration would become the basis of BlightSTAT meetings – a monthly public forum for residents and City leaders to discuss progress in blight remediation. Similarly, to help inform crime reduction strategies in 2012, the City and NOPD released 911 Calls for Service data to provide broad insight into the problems we faced.
Open data has been used to create applications that have expanded the reach and impact of City services and data, including BlightStatus, Property.nola.gov and CivicSource.com. In 2012, the City partnered with Code for America to create BlightStatus, an interactive online tool for residents to track the progress of blighted units within the Code Enforcement system in New Orleans. For the first time in the City of New Orleans’ history, residents could review up-to-date property information directly from City records without stepping foot inside City Hall. BlightStatus has improved the City’s work with neighborhood groups and individual residents in the fight on blight. The City’s portal for property ownership information, Property.nola.gov, made finding information about property easily available for the first time. It is often used by neighborhood associations and the private sector as a tool to aid economic development. Adjudicated property auction site, CivicSource.com, uses the City’s open data to power their own civic entrepreneurship.
While the City has been recognized nationally for efforts to use open data, data releases have been ad hoc with no specific policy or agreed upon guiding principles. In 2015, the City partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities (WWC) initiative, collaborating with WWC partner organizations the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), Results for America, and the Sunlight Foundation to develop a formal open data policy. This Open Data Policy puts in place the necessary standards to facilitate future innovations and collaborations around data.
Lamar Gardere, the City’s Chief Information Officer, said, “Knowing what data we have allows it to be used as a tool for accountability, government transparency and building trust with the public. Each of the City’s efforts benefits from the implicit partnership open data creates between the public sector, community and private/non-profit sectors. We have recognized data as a powerful tool to create innovative collaboration and to drive results.”
Open data has also been used as the basis for many of the City’s STAT reports and meetings, powers the City’s website on street construction (Roadwork.nola.gov) and has helped drive life-saving initiatives such as optimizing the Fire Department’s decisions on where to focus smoke detector installation efforts. Open data has the potential to cement the City’s growing reputation of data-driven innovation and ensures that commitment to transparency and accountability is not easily discarded.
The Open Data Policy will establish processes and mechanisms for collecting, maintaining, cataloging, recommending and governing actions pertaining to data. The executive order highlights the relevance of data as a critical decision-making tool that encourages civic innovation.
The goals of the policy and executive order include:
- Establishment of a plan for creating a comprehensive data inventory
- Establishment of a process for proactively releasing publishable City data, identifying data coordinators for each City agency and prioritizing data for release;
- Establishment of a repository where public datasets can be made freely available to the public on an open license basis;
- Establishment of a repository where authoritative geographic data will be maintained;
- Establishment of a plan for reporting progress towards achievement of the goals set forth in the data policy;
- Establishment of a plan for maintaining compliance with the Louisiana Public Records law when publicly releasing data.
In June 2016, the City launched NextRequest, a new and open online system for processing public records requests. NextRequest allows individuals to request, track and access the status of their Public Records Requests online.
Today, the City will launch two additional tools to increase transparency and accountability of local government using open data. DataDriven.nola.gov is a website dedicated to promoting the City’s data products and initiatives in a way that adds context and meaning to the City’s open data. 311Explorer.nola.gov is a website that allows anyone to look up NOLA 311 requests online. Currently, NOLA 311 is entirely phone-based. This is the first step in 311 Digital – the expansion of NOLA 311 to leverage online and mobile tools.
The text of the Executive Order is below:
WHEREAS, the adoption of a Data Policy improves the provision of services, increases transparency and access to public information, and enhances coordination and efficiencies among departments and partner organizations; and
WHEREAS, much of the data collected by the City is not cataloged, impeding the ability to aggregate, analyze and synthesize it to better allocate public resources; and
WHEREAS, adoption of a Data Policy will encourage the proactive provision of information currently sought through Public Records Law requests, saving the City time and money.
NOW THEREFORE, I, MITCHELL J. LANDRIEU, by the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of New Orleans, by the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana and the Home Rule Charter and laws of the City of New Orleans, HEREBY ORDER AS FOLLOWS:
Effective Date: This Executive Order is effective upon signature of the Mayor.
Purpose: The purpose of this Executive Order is the development and implementation of a data policy that contemplates a multi-year process to inventory, assess, and catalog City of New Orleans data.
Chief Administrative Office Policy Memorandum: The Chief Administrative Office shall issue a Policy Memorandum outlining the City’s data policy including, but not limited to, the following:
The goals for the data policy;
The plan for creating a comprehensive data inventory;
The process for proactively releasing publishable City data, identifying data coordinators for each City agency, and prioritizing data for release;
The location where public datasets shall be made freely available to the public on an open license basis;
The location where authoritative geographic data shall be maintained;
The plan for reporting progress towards the achievement of the goals of the data policy;
The plan for maintaining compliance with the Louisiana Public Records law when publicly releasing data; and
Any and all other considerations necessary to implement the program set forth above in a timely and efficient manner.
WITNESS MY HAND AND SEAL THE 1ST DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2016 AT NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA.
Mitchell J. Landrieu
September 1, 2016