Modeled after similar initiatives in New York City, Chicago and Baltimore, the Providence Open Data Portal increases the transparency, accountability and accessibility of public data. Providence is the first municipality in Rhode Island to launch such a website.
Creation of an open data portal was a key recommendation of the Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability, a 15-member commission established in 2011 by Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence City Council. The Commission was tasked with studying and making recommendations to help city government better engage residents through information technology.
"Government works best when it is transparent and accessible," said Mayor Angel Taveras. "Providence's Open Data Portal will empower citizens by providing the tools and information needed to access and review city data. This is an important step forward in our work to implement the recommendations of the Open Providence Commission and reflects our strong commitment to transparency and accountability."
Providence's Open Data Portal is launching with 25 sets of data, including detailed budget information, the location of all the City's street trees, and the updated assessed value of every residential property in the city. Users of the portal can analyze and cross-reference data sets, build their own charts and graphs, and upload and share all data on the Internet.
The City of Providence will consider additional datasets for publication on a quarterly basis. Data that contains personnel information or information that may jeopardize public safety efforts will not be published.
"I am pleased to see Providence adopting an Open Data Portal and moving forward with the recommendations of the Open Providence Commission," said John Marion, chairman of the Open Providence Commission and executive director of Common Cause. "As a longtime Providence resident and as the executive director of the state's nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization focused on public accountability, I know that modern information technology can improve city government's ability to directly engage with its residents."
Mayor Angel Taveras has made transparency and accessibility to city government a cornerstone of his administration. Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Taveras has extended city hall hours to 7 p.m. for two evenings per month, held monthly "My Time with the Mayor" sessions to meet one-on-one with citizens, and created the Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability. Mayor Taveras was the 2012 recipient of Common Cause's Excellence in Public Service Award.