New York City Council member Gale Brewer has been trying to open up the city’s inner workings to the public since the time when an IBM Selectric passed for a sophisticated information technology device.
“I’ve been into government transparency for so long that in the typing days I used to type up lists of government contacts and give them out to people,” says Brewer.
Since that primitive era, the amount of data generated by the city and its potential usability has increased exponentially. Its availability to the public, however, did not always keep pace.
That’s why Brewer and her allies in city government pushed for the passage last year oflandmark open-data legislation that is designed to take all the information in the hands of city government and making it available to the public. This week is the one-year anniversary of the bill’s passage, and marks one of the bill’s first deadlines. At this point, all of the data that has already been publicly available must be delivered in accessible, machine-readable formats for publication online through a single web portal in an easily usable format, “without any registration requirement, license requirement or restrictions on their use….”. By September of this year, all 80 of the city’s agencies have to provide a compliance plan for meeting the legislation’s ultimate benchmark, which is to have all city databases up and ready for the public to access by 2018.