Newsom Signs Law to Reveal Hidden Data

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 12: San Francisco mayor and California Lt. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters after meeting school children at Fairmount Elementary School on November 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced today that he vetoed a controversial legislation that was approved by the San Francisco board of supervisors that would ban toys in fast food "happy meals." He promoted his "Shape Up SF" program as a more effective way to combat childhood obesity by encouraging children to eat better, exercise and for schools to offer healthy food choices that include fresh vegetables. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Get ready to take a peek inside the guts of City Hall.

    Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed a law that would compel departments to release data about their practices, knowledge bases, and outcomes. It's an extension of a successful 2009 executive order that opened up reams of previously inaccessible information.

    The available data spans a wide range, from the locations of trees to Muni arrival times to data about crimes. Confidential data is withheld from disclosure, but more other sets will now be readily available. Crucially, the data is in formats that are easy for machines to understand, which will streamline the process of crunching the reams of information.

    "San Francisco once again demonstrates what it means to be on the cutting edge of government openness and transparency," said Mayor Newsom. "By making data sets publicly available, we’re forging valuable public-private partnerships with app developers and making City services easier to access for our residents."

    By signing the open data provision into law, Newsom has ensured that his successor -- whoever that might be -- will be held to the same standard of transparency. Unless, of course, he or she repeals it.

    This is a companion to several technical innovations launched by the city in the last few years. Work is currently progressing on Open311, an effort to standardize the system that tracks comments and requests from citizens.

    If you'd like to give Gavin a piece of your mind about the new legislation, stop by City Hall on Sunday, December 12, from 2pm to 5pm for an Open House. They'll be serving cookies.