Ordinance requires Pittsburgh government to publish data online
Pittsburgh has to figure out what data it collects before it can determine how to share it under open data legislation City Council passed unanimously Tuesday that requires city government to post public info online.
“There's going to be some data where we'll say, ‘Oh, this is collected but it's not digital, it's only kept on paper somewhere.' Or it's kept on a city system, but not shown to the public,” said Laura Meixell, the city's new analytics and strategy manager.
Council's approval marks one of the first initiatives Mayor Bill Peduto's administration has shepherded from campaign promise into law. Peduto took office in January.
Meixell said the first step is appointing an open data management team with a representative from each department. The team must submit a plan within six months of the legislation's enactment to the mayor and City Council to improve open data access.
Publicly accessible info could include budget plans, building permits, crime statistics and pothole repair updates. However, the legislation doesn't identify what data should be available, only that it should be in a widely accepted, machine-readable open format.
The city plans to seek public comment on what types of data the community wants to access, Meixell said. The system could model OpenDataPhilly, which lets users suggest and access open data subjects in Philadelphia.
To host the data sets securely, the city may require new technological infrastructure and could seek financial support from nonprofits, Meixell said.
The initiative could save the city money by publicizing data otherwise obtained through time-consuming Right-to-Know Law requests.
Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said she hopes developers will create apps that integrate city data. One example: an app that reminds users it's trash or recycling pickup day.
“Data doesn't have to be complicated in order for it to be useful,” she said.
Nationwide, about two dozen city, county and state governments have passed open data legislation, and 12 others have proposals, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency nonprofit.
Rebecca Williams, a policy analyst with the foundation, said the public has a right to see government information in an accessible format.
“The data is available,” she said. “It's made with your taxpayer dollars, it's in an Excel spreadsheet on someone's computer.”
Cities already operating under open data legislation are obtaining new information about city living, Williams said. She pointed to public safety examples in Los Angeles and New York City connected to firehouse response times and fallen tree limbs.
“You have 20 cities you can look to, but you're still on the cutting edge,” she said. “This will be the future in most places.”
Melissa Daniels is a Trib Total Media staff writer. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Computer science students compete for laurels in 36-hour ‘hackathon’ at Pitt
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- Probiotic bacteria help conquer ‘superbugs’
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded
- Alone at controls, Germanwings co-pilot sought to ‘destroy’ the plane
- Steelers notebook: Team seek ease on West Coast travel
- Pirates pitchers finding success with expanded strike zone
- Norwin High School health teacher charged with selling heroin
- This collector wields Power of the Pens