Portland, OR

Council Ordinance (May 3, 2017)

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Sunlight provided assistance with the development of this policy.

This city is part of the What Works Cities program.


Highlight text matching an Open Data Policy Guideline:




ORDINANCE No. 188356 As Amended

Establish an Open Data Policy and create an Open Data Program for the City of Portland (Ordinance)

The City of Portland Ordains:

Section 1. The Council finds:

  1. The City of Portland is committed to the publication, open access, and widespread sharing of data collected and generated by the City, and by private sector companies, non-profit organizations, academia, and other parties working on behalf of the City. An Open Data Policy and Program will increase transparency, foster a culture of using data to inform and evaluate City decisions, reduce staff time devoted to responding to requests for City data, encourage innovative approaches to meeting City goals, and achieve more equitable program and service outcomes.
  2. In 2009, Portland became the first city in the United States to adopt an Open Data Resolution (Resolution No. 36735) to encourage the expansion of the technological community by promoting open data and partnerships between City government and the public, private and nonprofit sectors, academia, and labor. The directives in the Resolution applied to the Bureau of Technology Services and the City’s Purchasing Agent. The directives included publishing and maintaining public datasets, developing a strategy to adopt prevailing open data standards, organizing regional contests to encourage the development of software applications, collecting, organizing, and sharing public data, and working with regional partners to promote Portland as a host city for open source conferences. Since its adoption, these parties have taken initial steps to establish an Open Data Program for the City, including the creation of the CivicApps Open Data platform and the PortlandMaps Open Data portal.
  3. The Portland Police Bureau launched an Open Data portal in 2017 as part of the Police Data Initiative (POI). The POI, in partnership with leading law enforcement agencies from around the country, seeks to establish a community of practice around police open data. As a participating agency, the PPB is committed to making data accessible to community members. The POI embraces open data as an important opportunity for transparency, community engagement, and innovation. The Police Bureau’s participation in POI, including experience designing an open data portal, will inform the citywide Open Data Program and give the City access to a network of other jurisdictions for sharing lessons learned and best practices.
  4. All City bureaus collect and share data about their operations using standardized, digital formats. However, the City has no comprehensive, centralized list of existing datasets, and no process for prioritizing or reviewing of data for release to the public.
  5. No City policy requires City bureaus to collect, store, maintain, update, and release data to other agencies and the public on a regular basis. Multiple, redundant datasets exist across the City, leading to issues with data consistency, data quality, version control, interoperability and efficiency of access to information. Moving to an open, standardized, automated, and centralized system for managing City data will help address these issues, and also promote shared, standardized digital systems for creating and collecting data.
  6. Making data available via an online Open Data Portal will benefit City staff by breaking down data silos, streamlining the sharing of data across bureaus, and encouraging collaboration among City staff. A robust flow of data within the City creates a culture of information sharing that is foundational to Portland’s Smart Cities efforts, which focus on using technology and data to inform decision-making and provide better, more equitable, and more accessible infrastructure and services.
  7. The number of public records requests to the City of Portland has increased substantially in recent years. A significant amount of staff time is devoted to addressing these requests. Self-service portals for accessing City information both improve the public’s experience with requesting data and reduce staff time spent on fulfilling records requests. This will be increasingly valuable as the amount of data the City creates and collects grows. The City currently has no system for connecting public records requests to our open data portals, and no process for prioritizing data that is repeatedly requested for release to the public through our public records request system.
  8. Portland is home to an active and engaged technology community. Proactive collection and sharing of data by all City bureaus ensures that Portland is receiving the greatest benefit from this technology community. Proactive data sharing unlocks the social and commercial value of our assets. The private and nonprofit sectors, academia, labor community and general public can all utilize open data to help solve Portland’s most pressing issues, to boost economic development, and to build ladders of opportunity for our community through innovative uses of data and technology.
  9. Building a culture of information sharing through open data will facilitate the development of open standards around how data is structured and delivered, an area where the Portland region has demonstrated leadership and expertise. For example, in 2005 TriMet partnered with Google to create the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), a standard for the structure of real-time transit schedule information. The benefits of this collaboration are realized by transit agencies around the world who have adopted the standard to make ridership easier for the millions of individuals who utilize public transit.
  10. Data about City infrastructure and use of that infrastructure is increasingly being collected by private sector companies, often passively in the public domain. Establishing processes by which private companies share this data helps the City better manage and maintain our infrastructure, informs our policy and decision-making, and encourages public participation in decisions regarding the design, maintenance and utilization of City systems and assets.
  11. A primary goal of the Portland Plan implementation is to coordinate processes for data collection and data analyses, in order to allow bureaus, agencies, businesses, community organizations and Portlanders to base decisions on accurate and shared information. An Open Data Program will help achieve this goal by making data more readily available to City staff and the public, by improving the quality of data, and by building a foundation for data-driven decision making.
  12. The Portland 2035 Comprehensive Plan Chapter 2: Community Involvement, Policy 2.11 states that the City will encourage publication, accessibility, and widespread sharing of data collected and generated by the City. Testimony to City Council during the Comprehensive Plan’s adoption was strongly in favor of achieving these goals through an Open Data Program.
  13. The City’s Citywide Racial Equity Goals & Strategies cites “…improved access to data to measure the success of specific programmatic and policy changes and to develop baselines, set goals, and measure progress” as a key strategy. An Open Data Program would help achieve these racial equity goals by making data readily available and accessible, developing a more comprehensive inventory of City data, and giving the public increased transparency into the effectiveness of City programs and policies.
  14. Through the City’s participation in the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities initiative, per City Council Resolution No. 37236, City staff have received technical assistance to advance a comprehensive Open Data strategy, and access to a peer network working on similar Open Data issues.
  15. Through this Ordinance, the City seeks to expand upon the work completed as a part of the 2009 Open Data Resolution (Resolution No. 36735), establishing mechanisms for engaging all City bureaus in the proactive collection and distribution of City data.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Council directs:

  • a. The City of Portland establishes an Open Data Policy to be committed to the publication, accessibility, and equitable and widespread sharing of data collected and generated by all City bureaus and by private sector companies, non-profit organizations, academic universities and other parties working on behalf of the City. The City will strive to make data open by default.
  • b. To implement the Open Data Policy, the City shall create an Open Data Program which shall address the program elements and processes shown in Exhibit A.
  • c. The Mayor’s Office shall establish and appoint members to a Data Governance Team who will be responsible for providing guidance to departments and City Council on the overall direction of the City’s Open Data Program, including recommending updates to the Open Data Policy and publishing an annual report on progress toward achieving strategic goals for the Open Data Program.

Section 2. The Council declares that an emergency exists because implementation should occur as soon as possible for the community benefit; therefore, this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage by Council.

Passed by the Council: MAY 03 2017

Mayor Ted Wheeler

Prepared by: Kevin Martin

Date Prepared: April 17, 2017



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