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City to offer more data online in more easily accessible formats
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City to offer more data online in more easily accessible formats

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The two youngest members of the City Council want to put Lincoln up with cities like Seattle, Minneapolis and New York which offer their citizens easy access to mountains of data. 

Leirion Gaylor Baird and Trent Fellers authored a resolution encouraging all city departments to look at publishing city data in easily accessible formats and sharing that data through a centralized city portal.

The open data initiative resolution, which passed unanimously, creates an atmosphere encouraging data sharing and a committee to oversee the new portal. 

"I think this is the next generation of government transparency. It will make city data available so everyone can use it. This will put Lincoln ahead of the game," Fellers said. 

The resolution is aimed at so-called techies, those who know what PDF stands for and what machine readable means. But the end result should be information more accessible to everyone.

And Lincoln expects to get some help with the data project from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has agreed to work with the city on open data and performance management, said Rick Hoppe, chief of staff to Mayor Chris Beutler.  

Already citizens use city data which is available on individual department websites, Gaylor Baird noted.

Employers and landlords use the police department’s online data to do background checks, Fellers and Gaylor Baird said in a news release.

Neighborhood associations have studied the police department crime data to help make their neighborhoods safer.

Local software developer Chris St. Pierre analyzed bike collision data, and his results helped support state legislation, Gaylor Baird said.

The resolution would create a central data portal and encourage publishing more data, which would be free to the public.

The resolution also sets a tone. It encourages the city to be open with all the data collected and to publish it in a way that is usable, Gaylor Baird said.

The information can also help city staff, said Hoppe. And it can be used by private entrepreneurs to solve problems and create efficiencies, said Fellers. 

This is public information and will not include sensitive private information on people or businesses that should not be part of the public record.

The committee will submit an annual report, provide support and training for staff on open data practices and ensure that sensitive information is safeguarded, Gaylor Baird said.

Though providing this easier access to data will require staff time, the goal is to do the work without increasing staff, Gaylor Baird said. The administration is going to have a conservative approach, looking at using the existing budget to make this happen, she said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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