February 13 – Mayor Byron W. Brown kicked-off the City of Buffalo’s updated, CitiStat 2.0 initiative on Friday, February 10, 2017. The Mayor’s initial priority areas will be Public Safety, opportunity, economic development and quality of life.“By bringing multiple department heads together and pooling their individual experiences and perspectives, and combining those with best practices expertise, we’ll be able to make better-informed, more strategic decisions, and identify solutions on key issues. This cross-departmental approach will also help us identify key performance indicators, set targets and achieve goals,” Mayor Brown said.First introduced by Mayor Brown when he took office in 2006, the original CitiStat program employed a format where City department heads provided regular updates and statistics related to initiatives in their individual areas of responsibility. Those updates were used to gauge progress and measure performance. The question and answer sessions were aired live on Buffalo’s Government Access Television Station’s Ch. 22. to give the public a front row seat on the inner workings of City government.Like its predecessor, CitiStat 2.0 programs will be aired on Ch. 22, enhancing the openness and transparency of the initiative. CitiStat 2.0 will be aided by another innovative mayoral initiative, Open Data Buffalo, which will provide a data-fueled performance analysis.The Brown administration’s effort to launch an Open Data program is being aided by the Bloomberg Philanthropies National “What Works Cities” initiative, which is working with 55 cities in 33 states to use data to make government more effective, while improving lives of residents. Buffalo is one of 12 cities selected by the What Works Cities team for assistance in advancing its goals of Open Data and Performance Management.
“Our in-house team, with the expertise of our What Works Cities partners, is pushing ahead toward the July launch of the free, Buffalo Open Data internet portal which will enhance the on-going effort to grow Buffalo into a City of opportunity for all. We look forward to establishing what we believe will be a best-of-class model of how to maintain a public data portal,” Mayor Brown said.
Mayor Brown today led a roundtable discussion on Open Data Buffalo which included Oswaldo Mestre, the City’s Chief Service Officer, Kirk McLean, the City’s Open Data Program Manager, as well as two outside Open Data policy experts.Dr. Monica Stephens, Ph.D., assistant professor, University at Buffalo, Department of Geography, whose fields of study include social networks and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) said the City of Buffalo’s decision to create an Open Data portal is a very positive move.“As a professor who uses municipal data in research and practice, I was happy to hear that Mayor Brown is launching Open Data Buffalo to make the City’s data more open and accessible for all. Open data is a powerful tool for citizens, nonprofits, and government. By opening up the City of Buffalo’s data, anyone and everyone will be able to produce new insights and leverage the existing knowledge base of our City’s government,” Stephens said.Also taking part in the discussion was Noel Isama, a policy analyst with The Sunlight Foundation. The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses technology, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all. Our vision is for technology to enable more complete, equitable and effective democratic participation.“"Buffalo's open data champions have taken major steps toward improving the use of data in their community. Beyond drafting a framework for the collection and release of city data in its policy, the city has already begun leveraging local knowledge and expertise to inform open data in Buffalo by soliciting public feedback on their draft. With an already engaged community, the city will go beyond data-driven decision making internally by giving residents the information they need to create innovative solutions to problems impacting the community."The City held a public open comment period on its proposed Open Data policy in January, which allowed the public to vote on whether they were in favor of the establishment of an Open Data Portal, as well as post comments and suggestions on changes to the draft policy. Support for the concept of the Open Data portal was overwhelmingly positive, with only one “no” vote.More than 80 respondents, many from those who work in the data arena, posted over 100 comments which are guiding the City as it tweaking its final policy. During the roundtable, which was taped and will air on Ch. 22, participants discussed how to incorporate some of those suggestions into the final policy. Among the recommendation talked about were:- How to promote active participation by the community, including data technologists, civics activists, programmers and data specialists to develop tools that turn data into insight for some of the city’s pressing issues,
- How to create a space within the portal to showcase the innovative way in city data is used by the community,
- Would it be beneficial for the City portal to host data from nonprofit and academic partners alongside municipal data,
- Would the efficacy of the City portal be enhanced if it included crowd-sourced and citizen scientist-created data,
- Should the Open Data Governance Committee include members from outside City Hall or should a Citizens Advisory Panel be created,
- Should the portal include a centralized system for submitting, tracking and responding to FOIL requests,
- How to present sensitive data in an aggregate or anonymous form.The Mayor is expected to sign an executive order in the next week finalizing the City’s Open Data Policy. Data liaisons from 14 City departments have begun an inventory of their data as they prepare to develop digital data sets.Next steps include issuing an RFP for a third-party data portal host, and selecting that vendor with the goal of launching the Open Data Buffalo portal in the summer of 2017.