New York state has a new website to provide the public access to federal, state and local government data—open.ny.gov — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today. The site includes data from more than 30 state agencies and authorities, the State University of New York and the City University of New York, and it will expand over time, according to the governor.
The launch of the website comes during Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative designed to raise awareness about the importance of open government. The governor also issued an executive order today directing state agencies to review and catalog data they collect and take steps to make it available on the Web.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement. “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.”
Some examples of data available on open.ny.gov:
—Food safety inspection information for food-service establishments statewide.
—Professional medical conduct discipline information going back to 1990.
—Recreation information on state parks, historic sites, campgrounds, fishing spots, boat launches and other activities.
The state is offering open.ny.gov, which was first announced in February, as a shared resource to local governments around the state. Four counties—Essex, Oneida, Onondaga and Suffolk—and the city of Albany are already sharing data on the website. The state will help all localities that opt to use the service, the governor said. Thousands of federal data sets are also available on the site, either alone or in combination with state data. New York’s data is searchable on the federal website data.gov.
“Opening up government data will promote greater government efficiency and effectiveness, and will fuel a rising tide of private-sector entrepreneurship, innovation and discovery,” said Todd Park, U.S. chief technology officer for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Open data is by definition free from restrictions and can be released in a format that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed and search by commonly used Web search applications. Just eight other states provide this kind of access to information. Making data publicly available has reduced costs in other states and made government more efficient by allowing access to data outside the Freedom of Information Law process, Cuomo said. For example, Massachusetts has saved more than $3 million in document costs by putting procurement information online, and FOIL requests in South Carolina have decreased by one-third.
“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,” said Robert Freeman, executive director of New York’s Committee on Open Government. “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.”