Dear New Yorkers,
Every day, as New York City agencies serve the public, they create records of their work. From teachers taking attendance records to Sanitation workers driving snow plows down the streets after a storm, the City is constantly generating data. This data is key to understanding how City government is working for New Yorkers, and when New Yorkers engage with that data, they can be empowered to take action on behalf of themselves and the communities they live in. This vision is what led good government advocates, City staff, and elected officials to promote government transparency and public access to City data. Their efforts resulted in innovations like Freedom of Information Laws and the Public Data Directory, which built on each other, each making it easier to find and access the data used to run New York City. The creation of Open Data, now in its twelfth year, resulted from a shared understanding that even greater access to the information used to run NYC and more structure around how that information is identified and formatted could allow for more government accountability, improved civic education, better data quality, and new economic development. And in the past twelve years, as Open Data has been used by academics, entrepreneurs, government staff, non-profits, students, reporters, and millions of other New Yorkers and people from around the world, this promise is being realized.
The success of NYC’s Open Data program is the result of this process of evolution and the same collaborative development that was responsible for its creation. Hundreds of datasets from a few dozen agencies have grown to thousands of datasets from nearly a hundred agencies. New laws, policies, and systems have been created to support the people who create and use Open Data. From requiring each agency to have a designated “Open Data Coordinator” and each dataset to have a plain language data dictionary, to sharing projects built on Open Data and holding an annual Open Data Week festival, more advocates, City staff, and members of the public have joined the effort to make City government data more accessible to every New Yorker.
However, our work is far from finished. Two years ago, we published the plan for NYC Open Data’s next decade, initiatives designed to support and grow the program’s infrastructure, make it easier for New Yorkers to use Open Data, and build communities of users. This plan, which you can find an update on in the following sections, was informed by the challenges faced and lessons learned over the course of this program’s evolution. As we reflect on this past year and the last eleven preceding it, we also look forward to continuing to deliver and expand on the vision that animates NYC Open Data: making more data more accessible to more New Yorkers. It is only with continued collaboration, building together, and learning from our past work that this vision is possible. We look forward to you joining us.
The NYC Open Data Team