Big Data

San Francisco city government wants to give your data back to you

Image Credit: Fintrvlr

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has just announced the city’s open data strategic plan, which aims to “broaden the focus of open data from simply publishing to making it available in a manner that fosters better use of the data.” This plan came five months after the appointment of Joy Bonaguro as the city’s first Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In this war plan, San Francisco wants to achieve six goals in the next three years, ranging from improving data quality to encouraging more data driven decision making. In one goal talking about confidential information, the plan touches upon how to “create a process for accessing your individual data.”

Riding the wave of data democratization, a number of local and state level governments have opened up their data to the public and appointed CDOs to manage the data and coordinate different city departments.

Corporations like Intel have also started supporting the democratization of consumer data, the idea that you can check out the data big companies have collected about you.

According to the plan, San Francisco is thinking about giving your data back to you. “A process for accessing data that the city holds about you will increase transparency,” according to the plan. However, this might not happen any time soon. “Given the distributed nature of individual data, we expect this to be a complex undertaking and we will focus on background research and planning in year one.”

How to better share and protect confidential data is actually one goal the city wants to achieve. As we know, confidential data like individually identifiable information is not among the open data the public can get access to.

However, according to the plan, even between the city’s different departments, confidential data sharing is both time consuming and dependent on “individual interpretations on what data is appropriate to share.”

Now we know why we have to enter our personal information for different city departments again and again.

The way San Francisco will address this is to create a shared set of rules for classification. With a clear classification, departments can more easily share confidential data and “even publishing if appropriate using aggregation, anonymization, or other means.”

For more details to the plan, read it here.


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