Buffalo, N.Y., to Launch City's First Open Data Portal

The city is partnering with Socrata to create a platform that allows users to download data sets and create visualizations.

by / September 25, 2017
Downtown Buffalo, N.Y. Flickr/emilstefanov

The city of Buffalo has announced plans to launch an open data portal in October that will give the public streamlined access to data sets about services, policing and more.

Mayor Byron Brown announced the upcoming launch in a press release Sept. 25, noting that the platform will make data sets available for simple download in spreadsheet form, as well as in more engaging ways that will foster citizen engagement, allowing users to create visualizations and build apps that automatically update when new data enters the system.

“The proactive public release of our data will also increase transparency of how the city of Buffalo functions, while offering residents, government leaders, businesses and researchers easy access to information that will provide opportunities for external analysis and generate new ideas on how to use information for the public good,” Brown said in the release. “Creation of the portal will also help us work smarter by increasing internal data sharing, improving workflow and end duplicative data collection, and give our city departments the ability to tell their everyday stories through interactive tables, charts, graphs and maps.”

To create the platform, Buffalo has partnered with Socrata, one of the leading companies in the government open data portal space. This comes after Brown implemented an open data policy for the city in February. Buffalo also held open houses to solicit community input on the effort earlier this year, according to local news outlets, where there was discussion between city officials and about 80 data and tech professionals.

Until now the city did not have a centralized place online for residents to find its open data. The closest it had was Open Book Buffalo, which was created by the city comptroller to make Buffalo’s finances more transparent. According to the RFP for the open data portal, in the past some city data was available on the website, but oftentimes it was only in PDF or other non-extractable or machine-readable format. The new platform will change that.