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New York State Unveils New Open Data Portal

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, March 12 2013

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a new open data portal Monday, Open.ny.gov, following through on a promise made in his State of the State speech in January. The site will feature data from every New York State agency, and tie in localities from all over the state.

“States aren’t just big cities, they include local government - towns, counties - as components,” says John Kaehny, Executive Director of the government accountability organization Reinvent Albany.

Kaehny says part of what makes the initiative important nationally is its focus beyond a single city.

“Most Americans live under local government, outside of big cities,” he says. “Outside of big cities, this is the largest source of data closest to the public.”

The site is a product of an open data pilot project conducted by the New York State Health Department called the METRIX Project (Maximizing Essential Tools for Research Innovation and eXcellence Project). Open.ny.gov’s current offerings come from 30 agencies and authorities, and feature over 200 datasets. They are a product of an early outreach effort by the Governor’s office, but the site will be growing in the coming months.

According to an executive order signed by Governo Cuomo, New York’s Office of Information Technology Services will administer the site, and every state agency has a month to appoint a data coordinator, a deputy commissioner or division head who will identify and submit their agency’s data to the state. Within 90 days, ITS will issue a provisional “Open Data Handbook,” which will lay out the guidelines for publishing data. Agencies and organizations have six months to create a catalogue of all their publishable state data, and create a schedule for making that data publicly available, which itself will be made publicly available. Within 240 days, the handbook will be finalized.

The state hopes the portal will save not only citizens' time, but government money as well.

“Government is the largest user of government data, but much of that data is currently in silos and hard for government to find and use,” says Kaehny. “So, there are big time cost savings when government workers spend less time looking for data.”

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