Cary Drafts Open Data Policy to Hold Transparency Accountable

Cary, NC – Cary has had an open data portal but no policy to hold it accountable. Now, the town has created a drafted policy and is looking for feedback from citizens.

Creating Accountability

Cary’s Open Data Policy draft is currently online and the town is taking comments, criticisms, questions and other feedback to take into account before the Cary Town Council votes on the policy.

The push to create an Open Data Policy comes out of Cary’s new partnership with the What Works Cities initiative. In addition to the initiative giving Cary the ability to share and compare data with other municipalities, it also connected Cary with the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on government transparency.

Through talks with the Sunlight Foundation, Cary Analytics and Innovation Manager Reid Serozi said the town saw the benefit to combining their current open data portal with a guiding policy.

“It’s a North Star to hold us to account,” Serozi said. “It also gives our open data practices sustainability so it can continue for a long time.”

With an Open Data Policy in place, the Town of Cary would have to continue following open data practices and Serozi said it could also serve as a catalyst for more change in getting data to Cary residents.

“It’s set out to deliver results and link results to projects,” Serozi said. “It could mean information is given to residents faster.”

Read and Comment

In the current draft of the Open Data Policy, it says the policy covers all public information that:

  • is not a confidential or otherwise protected public record
  • is not subject to copyright protection
  • does not contain information that could raise privacy, confidentiality or security concerns or have the potential to jeopardize public health, safety or welfare to an extent that is greater than the potential public benefit of Open Data Portal publication

Also, the policy says the data “has been prepared for release to the public as part of the Open Data Program.”

“Residents will be able to see fire department calls, police reports and building permit histories,” Serozi said. “There’s no personal data but it’s enough to make an informed decision.”

Serozi said this policy is in-line with the Imagine Cary plan and was crafted with help from the Sunlight Foundation and their past work. The policy has then been workshopped by the Town of Cary internally while also fitting it to North Carolina open record laws.

“Now, we’re looking for citizens to give the same level of influence we had internally,” Serozi said.

The policy states that its implementation will be the duty of Cary’s chief information officer. Each fiscal year, the chief information officer will also “shall make suggestions for improving the Town’s open data management processes” to ensure practices follow the policy and its goals.

Comments and feedback on the policy to citizens is open until Monday, March 5, 2018. There is not currently a scheduled date for the policy to go before Town Council.

Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Sean Ellis and Hal Goodtree.

1 reply
  1. Janelle Bailey
    Janelle Bailey says:

    Hats off to the Cary IT department for all their hard work on this effort! Cheron Gilchrist and Sandal Abid worked very closely with Reid to help develop Cary’s first Open Data Policy. Kudos!

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