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Ted Wheeler

Mayor, City of Portland

main phone: 503-823-4120

Opinion line: 503-823-4127

1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland’s New Open Data Policy will Improve Public Trust and Build Civic Engagement

Portland’s New Open Data Policy will Improve Public Trust and Build Civic Engagement
City Council’s endorsement sets wheels in motion to create a policy and program to make more City data readily accessible to the community

On Wednesday, May 3rd, Portland City Council enthusiastically adopted an Open Data Ordinance to establish an Open Data Policy and Open Data Program in the City of Portland, culminating an effort that began with the passage of Resolution No. 36735 in 2009 declaring Portland’s commitment to Open Data.

“In 2009, Portland was the very first jurisdiction to declare its commitment to Open Data,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Portland continues to be on the cutting edge, now taking this important next step to set up policies to implement an Open Data Program in the City.”

Establishing an Open Data Policy and Program and a system of data governance in the City of Portland will:

  • Increase transparency and improve public trust.
  • Build civic participation and engagement.
  • Improve access to data to inform and improve decision-making.
  • Reduce staff time devoted to responding to requests for City data.
  • Grow the likelihood of data-driven innovations in the private sector that increase the social and commercial value of City assets and improve the delivery of City services.

The Open Data Policy and Program are fundamental to the City of Portland’s Smart Cities efforts. Shared, standardized systems for collecting, managing, analyzing and distributing data are foundational requirements to meet Portland’s goals to use data to inform decisions, to design and evaluate policies and programs and to partner with the private sector to meet City goals around livability, affordability, safety, sustainability and equity.

“This program will bring a powerful tool to our residents, local businesses and mission-driven organizations,“ remarked Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Open Data is about fostering transparency and efficiency in government.”

Advancing an Open Data policy for the City of Portland has been part of the City’s partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities (WWC) initiative, which helps cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve residents’ lives. Portland’s selection to the initiative was announced in September of 2016. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) has been leading the Open Data effort in partnership with the City Budget Office (CBO). BPS and CBO worked with technical experts from two of WWC’s partners, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University and the Sunlight Foundation, to develop the Open Data Ordinance.

By adopting the Open Data Ordinance, City Council:

  • Established a general Open Data policy: The City will be committed to the publication, accessibility and equitable and widespread sharing of data collected and generated by all City bureaus and by private sector companies, non-profit organizations, academic universities and other parties working on behalf of the City. The City will strive to make data open by default.
  • Created an Open Data Program to implement the policy.
  • Established a Data Governance team, which will include representatives from multiple bureaus, to determine the overall direction of the Open Data Program, develop more specific data-sharing policies, and to engage external stakeholders in program design and implementation.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is tasked with the initial implementation of the program, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the City Budget Office, the Bureau of Technology Services and other City bureaus.

“I think what is really before us here today is another way to advance the core values of our City around access and transparency, empowering the public, and ultimately being accountable,” commented Commissioner Nick Fish. “And when we get those right, there is greater public trust in our work.”

Mayor Wheeler added, “This is an essential first step to democratizing our data.”