In 2012, New York City passed Open Data legislation requiring all city departments and agencies to consolidate all of their publicly available data into one web portal. The initial batch of data was placed on a web portal in March 2013. The Open Data legislation requires the city to submit a compliance plan setting a timeline for when agencies can make additional data sets available. Agencies have until December 31, 2018, to either finish publishing all of the data that’s already available to the public in other forms or explain why data sets cannot be made available. The city must also post an annual update to its compliance plan starting in July 2014 until all public data sets have been made available.

The compliance plan recently released by New York City contains a tremendous amount of data that will be released to the public. The Open Data portal now has over 1,000 datasets from more than 60 agencies. Recent information made available to the public in New York City as reported in a press release includes:

– Property record, building permit and building footprint data
– Searchable property records for Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn from 1966 to the present.
– All permits issued by the Departments of Buildings and Health and Mental Hygiene.
– Data related to violations from 13 of the city’s ticket-issuing agencies

Information that will be released in the future includes:

– Searchable database of procurement notices – bid solicitations
– Recent Bid Tabulations and contract awards.
– Performance indicators for all city agencies
– Street and sidewalk cleanliness ratings
– Weekly crime statistics breakdown by citywide, borough, and precinct

Entrepreneurs are using the data to create innovative apps to assist citizens in making use of the information being provided. New York City holds an annual app creation event to encourage private companies to create apps to utilize the available data. One recent winner of the annual Apps competition was HealthyOut. HealthyOut helps New Yorkers quickly locate healthy meals at restaurants nearby. The app integrates the City’s restaurant inspection results, data from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to suggest restaurants that meet food safety regulations. HealthyOut has risen to the top five apps in the iTunes Food and Drink list and recently launched its delivery service that sends healthy meals directly to the homes and offices of New Yorkers.

A new culture of open government is being created in New York, where information is being shared with the public without having to resort to Freedom of Information requests. Hopefully similar efforts are underway in your community?