Opening up open data policy: Introducing Open Data Policies Decoded

Open Data Policies Decoded
Open Data Policies Decoded, a new collaboration between Sunlight and the OpenGov Foundation.

At the Sunlight Foundation, we care about open government data and want to provide tools to empower advocates — both inside and outside the public sector — to improve and spread the public policy that is making it possible. However, there remains a glaring barrier to easily comparing and analyzing open data reforms across jurisdictions: Ironically, open data policy itself is not available as structured, machine-readable open data.

You heard right. Open data policy is not open, But as part of our involvement in the What Works Cities initiative, we’re striving to change that through an exciting new collaboration with our friends at the State Decoded and the OpenGov Foundation. We’re proud to introduce to you Open Data Policies Decoded, now in public beta. (Explore the GitHub repo here as well.) Here’s a bit about what we are doing and why.

For our first efforts to convert open data policy text into an open, structured format, we’ve decided to utilize the State Decoded project to create Open Data Policies Decoded. The result is a free, open source, web-based application to provide better access to open data policies from various jurisdictions (starting with U.S. cities) online. The site makes the language of open data reform more searchable, interconnected and machine-readable, adding an API, bulk download and semantic analysis tools.

By providing easier to read, more useful, accessible and, well, more open open data policies, our goal is to empower government officials and open government advocates alike to more easily mix and match the best aspects of various open data policies, “re-forming” reforms and ultimately facilitating the spread of good policy ideas across jurisdictions in the true spirit of open source culture.

We’ve launched the site with 48 policies from various U.S. cities, now available in modern, restriction-free and easy-to-access formats. We will be adding more open data policies in the coming weeks, and invite anyone and every city to contribute to and use the site. If we haven’t included your city’s open data policy, go ahead and submit it to the project, and if your city doesn’t have an open data policy, we encourage you to take full advantage of this new resource to remix one as a starting point for community dialogue about access to information.

Stay tuned on our blog for more on this exciting new project and what it means for our policy work going forward.