Our What Works cities are asking the public to weigh in on draft open data policies. Help us make better policy with, not for, the public.
For over a year, Sunlight’s Open Cities Team has researched “crowdlaw,” an open and collaborative method for drafting policy online in a public space. Crowdlaw offers an important alternative to closed-door policymaking by allowing any interested party to bring their ideas and expertise into the process. It also increases the public’s ability to hold lawmakers accountable for incorporating the ideas and feedback shared by these participants.
In tracking collaborative policymaking across U.S. cities, we’ve learned a lot about crowdlaw. We’ve shared insights from those who have participated in this trend, and even helped out a few cities with the process, including Buffalo, Naperville, and Wichita. Now is a unique moment: four of the municipalities participating in What Works Cities (WWC) are currently asking for online public comment on their open data reforms!
- Tempe, Ariz. The city isn’t just working to shift the way internal users think about open data: Tempe’s open data champions want the public’s input, too. Tempe has requested public feedback on its draft open data policy through several channels, including a Google doc, which will be available online until May 31. To accompany the new policy and program, Tempe’s brand new open data portal was launched on May 22; they’re collecting feedback on that too.
- Glendale, Ariz. As a part of its involvement in the WWC initiative, Glendale is asking data requestors for feedback to improve public records request and proactive disclosure processes. The city is taking these efforts a step further by seeking public comment on its draft open data resolution. The draft is currently hosted on Madison, an online platform for hosting public comments on draft policies and legislation created by our friends at the OpenGov Foundation. The city’s open data champion Jean Moreno is actively responding to comments on the draft open data resolution until the June 15 deadline.
- Nashville, Tenn. Nashville is taking a similar approach to Glendale, using Madison to collect feedback and gauge support for its draft open data policy, now available online for public feedback through June 20th. They’re asking, “How well does this policy facilitate public access to Nashville’s public data?”
- Durham, NC. Durham is taking a different approach to crowdlaw, asking for public comment on an existing open data policy. Taking a page from Sunlight’s Open Data Policy Guideline #31, “Mandate Future Review for Potential Changes to This Policy”, the city seeks to build and improve upon its foundation for the release of public data. You can comment on Durham’s open data policy here until June 21.
As the practice of looking to the crowd for improving open data policy becomes increasingly prominent, we’ve expanded our toolkit to share best practices for soliciting public feedback on policy. For more details, check out our “Collecting Feedback” section on our Public Policy for Public Data site.
So what’s next?
Crowdlaw creates a space for greater participation in the political process and offers residents meaningful access to decisionmaking – a trend we need now more than ever. We hope this model for lawmaking will continue expanding beyond the realm of open data, and we’ve seen promising evidence that this will be the case. With more organizations advocating for and researching crowdlaw, such as NYU’s GovLab, we are hopeful the wisdom of the crowd will continue to influence policymaking in the years to come.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more opportunities to view, comment, and provide support for our What Works cities’ open data reforms.