Cities need your help making better open data policy


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!

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.