Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday signed an Executive Order to release agency data to the public in open, machine readable formats.
“One of our most valuable and underutilized resources in state government is data,” said Gov. Wolf. “Our goal is to make data available in order to engage citizens, create economic opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs, and develop innovative policy solutions that improve program delivery and streamline operations.”
Open data refers to data in a format that can be understood by a computer and used freely by anyone.
In Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center established by the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh have released 450 data sets on topics including public safety, housing, health and human services and transportation.
By releasing state data, it increases the ability for researchers, businesses and citizens to find innovative solutions to improve public and private services.
“Making government data easily accessible benefits the public in many ways,” said Erik Arneson, Executive Director of the Office of Open Records. “Experience has shown that a good state-level open data portal will lead to cost savings for the government, opportunities for businesses, and more information for citizens. I applaud Governor Wolf for taking this important step.”
The Governor has directed the Office of Administration to establish a central repository to serve as the common location for open data published by state agencies. The Office of Administration will also work with agencies to identify, secure, and release valuable data sets.
The executive order requires agencies protect sensitive information. The new site is expected to be ready this summer and will continue to expand as new types of data are added.
“Over time, we believe that open data can provide a faster and more efficient way to deliver data to those who need it, and create opportunities for data analysts, entrepreneurs and technology developers to leverage our data and services in new and innovative ways.”A copy of the Executive Order is available online.