Council committee approves open data policy

This map shows locations of potholes that have been patched in Chicago — one of many data sets on its open data portal. Credit:

The City of Minneapolis is moving closer toward launching an open data portal that would allow the public access to a wide variety of information collected by the city — everything from crime hot spots to results of city inspections.

The open data policy approved by the City Council’s Committee of the Whole earlier today would add Minneapolis to the growing number of cities that are making government more transparent by making public data easier to access online.

Once approved by the full Council, the open data portal would be online within 120 days.

Otto Doll, the city’s chief information officer, said increasing access to the city’s public data sets will allow the public to become more engaged in city affairs and help find innovative strategies to address the city’s challenges.

Under terms of the open data policy, all data sets published on the portal must be formatted to allow for download through an automated programming interface (API) and allow for feedback from the public to encourage discussion on open data set policies, among other things.

City Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12), who has a background in web development, has spearheaded efforts to launch the open data portal. Before being elected to the Council, he worked on a website that allows users to dissect information about the federal government’s budget.

He said he’s eager to see Minneapolis get more citizens engaged by opening up data to more scrutiny.

City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10) said she’s heard from several constituents eager to see the open data portal become a reality.

“It’s a really important way of opening up government for more people,” she said, adding she believes the new policy will result in greater efficiencies for city government down the road.

A number of larger cities across the country are using the Socrata platform to catalog open data, including New York and Chicago