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DataSF Relaunches After Open Data Strategy Update

San Francisco is doubling down on open data with a simplified data portal aimed at fulfilling strategic plans.

Open data is changing in San Francisco.

In mid-August, the city relaunched its open data portal, DataSF, the site housing its digitally available data. Visitors were given a vastly different experience, as data categories were reduced from 27 to 10, data was linked to its corresponding departments and quick tips assisted developers to access the site’s application programming interface (API), a system used by programmers to access data for apps.

The new minimalistic design and interface changes were pushed by a desire for usability and discoverability -- virtues emphasized within San Francisco’s new Strategic Open Data Plan that was authored by Joy Bonaguro, the city’s first chief data officer and under direction from Mayor Ed Lee. The plan has a number of strategic goals spaced along a three-year timeframe, yet top priority is placed on enriching the city’s open data by making DataSF more than just a repository for government transparency -- the goal is for it to be a data source that builds businesses and improves citizens live through insights.

“Opening our government data to the public will foster innovation throughout San Francisco, while also improving the quality of life for our residents and strengthening the city’s role in maintaining and growing a strong local economy,” said Mark Farrell, the city’s District 2 supervisor, in a release.

As the central vehicle to realize these lofty ambitions, DataSF is now equipped with more prominent search features, categories and a new look. However, in a blog post, Bonaguro wrote that more changes are on the way -- more data sets will be uploaded, and the data will be given greater definition through metadata and simpler chart creating tools for data analysis.

“While this job will never be done," Bonaguro wrote, "we think we’ve vastly improved it."

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.
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