The New York City Council recently passed Open Data legislation that will  require 50 plus agencies to publish their quantitive data sets through an online portal in a machine-readable format, enabling public and private sector access to better manipulate and interpret the city’s information.  Data will be presented by category and by City agency.

As stated in the City Council press release:

“Today, the Council will vote on the Open Data Bill that will give New York City the strongest open data policy in the country. Government data available in a transparent format will allow the Council, advocates, research institutions and the public to analyze and interpret agency data, discover trends, reach conclusions and suggest new policies. For example, with freer access to complete inspection data, the Council can better determine if laws are being enforced consistently citywide and identify areas where procedures need to be improved. Trends will be more easily recognizable, paving the way for additional legislation, further outreach, improved education and targeted enforcement if appropriate. The bill will also generate economic opportunities for entrepreneurs to create applications and programs by using City data in innovative ways.”

For interesting examples of how government data can be utilized check out http://nycopendata.tumblr.com/.

The legislation will put on-line information that is available to the public through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, without requiring people to submit such a request. My understanding is that obtaining public information from many local governments is not easy when people file FOIL requests. Hopefully more local governments will move in the direction of taking a proactive approach by putting public information on-line.