San Jose City Council embraces open data

The public will able to access data generated by San Jose city employees under an open data policy aimed at increasing efficient government.

The City Council unanimously approved the policy, which will publish information through an open portal by default. Some sensitive data, however, will be kept private to comply with the law, city Chief Innovation Officer Vijay Sammeta said.

The city has been working on redesigning the portal that staff are preparing to launch and it will serve as a focal point for the data, Sammeta said:

“This is really about how do we visualize that data and make that relevant to the community.”

The city can inform the public on the progress of programs and services to help increase transparency, Sammeta said.

The open data will be also be beneficial in exchanging information between city departments, according to Sammeta.

Many workers in the nonprofit sector indicated they’d like to track down data based on zip code, which would help them in applying for grants, Sammeta said.

By making the information available, the city can help nonprofits assist the community, he said.

City Councilman Tam Nguyen was concerned about how the disadvantaged, including poor or uneducated people, can access the data.

In response, Sammeta said that the city is still beginning its “open data journey” and can explore making the information available through library computers.

The data will also be translated to Spanish and Vietnamese, he said.

The policy is a “necessary” component of the Smart City Vision, which was passed by the council last week with a goal of using technology to better serve residents, Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

There are many available tools and opportunities that can be made through the data, which is being “squirreled” away throughout city departments, according to Liccardo.

The policy will help implement the innovation demonstrated by many city employees and allow the community to give feedback in order to help improve local government, City Councilman Ash Kalra said.