Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched "open.ny.gov," a new and comprehensive state data transparency website that provides - for the first time - user-friendly, one-stop access to data from New York State agencies, localities, and the federal government. The website, featuring economic development, health, recreation, and public services information, was unveiled today during Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative designed to raise awareness about the importance of open government.
"Open.ny.gov creates unprecedented transparency across all levels of government and gives the people user-friendly access to vast quantities of information on our State," Governor Cuomo said. "This new website will dramatically increase public access to one of our most valuable assets - data. As it expands and evolves over time, Open.ny.gov will spark innovation, improve efficiency, promote accountability, and bring the people back into government."
The Governor today also issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to, for the first time, review and catalogue data that they collect and take steps to make public data available on the website. Data will be posted online in accordance with guidelines to be developed by the state Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), and the Executive Order directs ITS to consult with agencies and receive public input as those guidelines are finalized. As of today, over 30 state agencies and authorities, the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) are already making data available, and the State Education Department has agreed to participate going forward.
Open.ny.gov is also offered as a shared resource to localities across the state, which will give citizens unified access to government data and help local governments cut down costs and improve efficiency in addition to increasing transparency. The Counties of Essex, Oneida, Onondaga, and Suffolk as well as the City of Albany have already begun sharing their data on the website. The State will provide assistance to all localities that choose to use the service. Open.ny.gov can help state agencies and local governments by fostering research, promoting informed decision-making, and enhancing collaboration based on public data. It also provides agencies and localities with increased technical capacity to make their data public.
Through a partnership with the federal government, thousands of federal data sets are also available at open.ny.gov alone or in combination with New York's data. Similarly, New York's data is searchable along with data from other states on the federal website data.gov.
"New York State should be commended for its leadership in making government data more accessible, discoverable, and usable," said Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who has been leading federal open government efforts. "Opening up government data will promote greater government efficiency and effectiveness, and will fuel a rising tide of private-sector entrepreneurship, innovation and discovery."
"Open data" refers to data that is free from restrictions and can be released in a format that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web search applications. Open.ny.gov provides unprecedented "open data" access and transparency to the wealth of information collected and maintained by our state and local governments. It allows researchers, citizens, business, and the tech community direct, centralized access to high-value government data to search, explore, download, and share.
Making government information available in this way promotes the development of useful "apps" based on the data, encourages researchers and watchdog groups to use the data to make suggestions for improving government and life in New York, and makes state agencies more efficient by allowing access to data outside the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) process.
Experience elsewhere has shown that making data publicly available reduces costs, makes government more efficient, and inspires productive collaborations with the private sector. Examples include:
- By putting government data online, Massachusetts has saved over $3 million in document costs by putting procurement information online and South Carolina has seen FOIL requests decrease by one third.
- In San Francisco, access to real-time transit information resulted in decreased 311 call volume that saved over $1 million a year.
- Making more information available online helped Texas save $4.8 million in two years by using online fiscal data to analyze spending and identify potential savings.
Making data publicly available also allows those outside of government to create useful applications based on government data. For example, Washington D.C. estimates that their modest Apps for Democracy contest produced $2.3 million in new software from an investment of $50,000 in prize money.
At its launch today, even before agencies and authorities have been directed to participate, open.ny.gov is already providing substantial data that will be immediate use to the public, including substantial health, public facilities and services information, such as:
- Food safety inspection information for food service establishments statewide, including restaurants, school cafeterias, snack bars, and soup kitchens. Previously, data collected by state and local health departments on food service compliance inspections was made public in only a few areas.
- The public can now easily search for a physician and make better healthcare decisions based on professional medical conduct discipline information going back to 1990.
- For the first time, data from the NYS Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS), a comprehensive health reporting database, is publicly available without a FOIL request and in searchable, downloadable format. This includes 2010 hospital discharge data by facility and patient demographics for hospitals in the state. Also available are historic information on hospital-acquired inspection rates and hospital cost reports that will facilitate research and analysis.
- Recreation information on state parks, historic sites, campgrounds, snowmobile trails, fishing spots, golf courses, boat launches and hiking and cross country trails.
- Information on service providers like mental health providers, and a searchable, interactive map of daycare facilities throughout the state --including information on capacity -- to help families find child care in their neighborhood.
Over 200 datasets, maps, and charts are available today, with some datasets comprised of thousands of pieces of information. By merging information from multiple agencies and allowing mapping, open.ny.gov will substantially increase the usability of this information. As more data is made public, additional useful applications and information will be developed.
Open.ny.gov builds on an open data pilot project recently conducted by the State Health Department. This pilot was supported by the agency's open government initiative -- the Maximizing Essential Tools for Research Innovation and eXcellence Project, or METRIX Project. The METRIX Project is designed to improve public access to DOH data assets and encourage innovation, participation, and collaboration among stakeholders with the purpose of developing targeted health care policies to improve the quality of New York's health care system. Since the METRIX Project's launch in August 2011, DOH has made valuable health data publically available online. This data is now featured on open.ny.gov, as well as on a new health site at health.data.ny.gov.
State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said, "The METRIX Project was created to provide New Yorkers with access to valuable health data through advances in technology. I am thrilled that DOH has had a unique role to play to help further Governor Cuomo's vision to make New York State government more open, innovative and cost effective. Open.ny.gov will certainly benefit all New Yorkers and DOH is proud to be part of it."
Only eight other states nationally have open data websites that catalogue state data and provide searchable, downloadable access in a format like that found at open.ny.gov. At launch, New York's open.ny.gov is offering "API" or Application Programming Interface to data sets, along with an exclusive resource page that provides tools that developers can start using immediately to make applications with the available data.
Features Available at Open.ny.gov
- One-stop access to high value government data
- Powerful Cross-Agency Search Tools: All data submitted can be easily searched through a single search tool, facilitating the most efficient use of information from all agencies.
- Centralized access to New York's top transparency websites: Citizens' Connects, the Tappan Zee Bridge website; TheNewNY.com; the Regional Economic Development Council website; comprehensive Business Resources from Empire State Development; and the Jobs Express database of job openings in New York.
- Centralized collection of "apps" and mobile tools using NYS data
- Social Media Engagement: Easy ways for citizens to adapt the data to their individual context, visualize it on maps and charts, and share their creations with others on blogs and social networks; use of social media on the website will promote an ongoing "open data" conversation among users.
- Suggest a Dataset: Through this feature, the public can suggest ideas for data that should be included on the site.
- Ability to search federal and locality data due to partnerships with the federal government and localities across New York
Open New York Initiative
Today's launch of open.ny.gov follows the successful launch of "OpenBudget.ny.gov" in January and is the latest step in "Open New York," an initiative outlined in the Governor's 2013 State of the State address that aims to use technology to promote transparency, improve government performance, and enhance citizen engagement. In 2011, the Governor launched the CitizenConnects website to serve as an "online town hall" for New Yorkers to find the Governor's past schedules, see information about meetings around the state, and watch videos of the Governor's events.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "Today's launch of open.ny.gov during Sunshine Week signals a new era of openness in the State of New York. Governor Cuomo's new website allows New Yorkers to explore useful and previously unavailable information from state agencies and local and federal governments that can lead to better research and more effective decision making. We were happy to accept the Governor's invitation to share data from the Onondaga County at today's unveiling and look forward to continuing our use of this great resource at open.ny.gov."
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said, "We are pleased to have data from the Oneida County public on open.ny.gov at its launch today. As the website continues to grow, we are committed to continuing our participation - which both benefits the citizens of Oneida County and all the citizens of New York State. This initiative will promote openness in government, and it will also help localities like ours to reduce costs and improve efficiency with the State's assistance. I congratulate Governor Cuomo for this bold project."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "Governor Cuomo's new open data website, open.ny.gov, will provide New Yorkers with an unprecedented amount of state, local and federal information. Suffolk County is proud to join in this initiative to encourage transparency in government by sharing our county's data to be used by citizens, businesses, government officials and tech developers. Open.ny.gov will help us cut down on costs, improve efficiency and increase openness in our community."
Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas said, "Open.ny.gov is a great resource for local governments such as ours. Not only will it serve as a platform for us to share our own data and help us to save costs, it will also provide us with invaluable state and federal data for decision-making and research. I thank the Governor for his leadership in making transparency in all levels of government in New York a priority."
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said, "We are proud to participate in Governor Cuomo's open.ny.gov initiative. This website will help our locality cut costs - saving money for taxpayers, be more efficient with data and more transparent. I commend the Governor for launching this site and giving all local governments the opportunity to save money and increase transparency by putting their data online."
Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of NYS Association of Counties, said, Open.ny.gov is a great tool for public policy data driven research and information. Governor Cuomo continues to implement important programs that provide more transparency into New Yorks government operations.
Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union of the City of New York, said, "Citizens Union commends Governor Cuomo and his administration for creating this important open data portal for New York State, launching a crucial component of his Open New York Initiative. Proactive disclosure of usable state and local government data will provide New Yorkers with unprecedented access to never before released public data that will allow them to evaluate the effectiveness not only of government performance but other institutions serving the public, like restaurants. This important advance will spur innovation, enable New Yorkers to make better informed decisions, and make government more open and accountable - an essential element in our 21st century democracy. Open data will also directly benefit government through cost-savings realized from reduced FOIL requests and public suggestions on potential efficiencies that can be implemented."
Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government, said, "Governor's Cuomo's initiative serves as a dramatic advance in the disclosure of government information. Not only is the array of information impressive, perhaps even more significant will be the ability of the public to use the information in creative and innovative ways. With Open.ny.gov, information will be there for the taking, and it can be analyzed, extracted, merged to be useful to citizens in their daily lives and to our business and academic communities."
Jim A. Hendler, Tetherless World Senior Constellation Professor, Computer Science and Cognitive Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said, "It is exciting to see New York State releasing so much data and working to release so much more. I look forward to working with developers in New York and elsewhere as we create new technologies that will allow more and more New Yorkers to benefit from the data being released today."
Andrew Rasiej, Chairman of NY Tech Meetup, said, "The new Open New York is another great example of New York's emerging and growing leadership in technology and innovation. It also shows that when it comes to the goal of making Government more accountable transparent, and accessible to all citizens, New York is ready to lead too."
John Kaehny, Executive Director, Reinvent Albany, said, "Governor Cuomo is sending out a torrent of valuable state --- city and county --- data for all of the public to use. This flow of data will increase transparency, spur the innovation economy, improve public services and reduce the cost of government. New York State's open data initiative is particularly innovative and interesting from a national perspective, because it makes the state's data website available to local governments as a resource they can use to make their data easier for themselves and the public to find and use."
LaurenEllen McCann, National Policy Manager of Sunlight Foundation, said, "States are well-positioned to set a precedent of meaningful openness at the municipal and local level. Governor Cuomo's new initiative isn't just a call to action for Albany, but for local governments across the state of New York, and demonstrates a new approach to managing essential information the government holds."
Theresa Pardo, Director of Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, SUNY, said, "Sharing data across governments has long been recognized as difficult to do but necessary for efficient and coordinated services that cross governmental boundaries. Open.ny.gov represents a new opportunity for data sharing among New York State governments themselves by providing a common platform that makes it easy for them to share data and to use that data to create newly integrated and coordinated programs and services."
Tim Hoefer, Director of Empire Center for New York State Policy said, "This portal represents a tremendous step forward for transparency and will unlock countless doors for making more information available to New York's taxpayers."
Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), said, "Opening up state agency and authority databases will make state government more transparent and efficient. There will now be a way to compare historical data, better assess agency performance and get data quickly without going through the FOIL process. The governor is taking an important step by opening up the state's vast databases and providing a way for New Yorkers to easily see of how state government is using their tax dollars."