San Francisco passes open data law to release more city information

By Joshua Sabatini : SF examiner – excerpt

San Francisco committed this week to boost its open-data movement, but the impact of the decision will depend on the information released and how tech companies and advocates put the information to use.
After admittedly falling behind in the open-data movement, the Board of Supervisors approved legislation this week that officials say will put The City back on the frontier.
Currently, The City has publicly released and maintains 500 data sets on The City’s open-data site,  www.DataSF.org. The information includes such things as historic film locations, crime maps, bicycle parking sites and restaurant health scores. But city departments have their hands on thousands more data sets…
Chiu has called on city departments to release tow times related to special events so drivers using an app can receive alerts about whether their vehicles are at risk of being towed.
Taking that further, Alex Maxa, a founder of the CurbTXT texting program, wants access to The City’s tow data in real time about when a request is made to tow a vehicle. The information from The City could be used to alert the owner, thereby avoiding the costly towing fees.
The City Controller’s Office launched this week on its website SFOpenBook at the request of Chiu to track government spending. It remains a work in progress as there currently is no data about city workers’ salaries, for example.
“San Franciscans want more transparency in their budget to be able to drill down on exactly how and where every dollar of our $7 billion city government is spent, on salaries, contractors, programs goods and services,” Chiu said… (more)

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