Monday, April 7, 2014




WHEREAS, In order to make the operation of city government more transparent, effective,
collaborative with, and accountable to the public, it is in the best interest of the City
of Boston that its agencies and departments make their data available online using
open standards. Making data available online will streamline communication and
interoperability among city departments and other government entities. Also, having
data available online provides a forum for the public to assist in identifying efficient
solutions for government, promote innovative strategies for social progress, and
create economic opportunities; and

WHEREAS, Other cities, such as San Francisco and New York have adopted open data ordinances
that increase the accessibility of government processes and provide for rules and
technical standards to implement open data policies and to ensure compliance with
privacy laws. In San Francisco, the open data ordinance has provided opportunities
to develop innovative partnerships with citizens and companies. The open data
ordinance in New York City, Local Law 11, utilizes collaboration with the public by
requiring public input in developing technical standards; and

WHEREAS, The City of Boston has made data available through its current open data portal.
However, adopting an ordinance would codify the open government policies of the
City, create consistency among city departments by developing uniform technical
standards, and institutionalize a culture of open government while simultaneously
requiring city departments to balance transparency with privacy; and

WHEREAS, The implementation of an open data ordinance would provide greater accessibility to
government programs and proceedings by requiring city departments to make data
sets available in a more timely and efficient manner and would provide an
opportunity to use such data for the creation of useful civic tools; and

WHEREAS, By enacting an open data ordinance, the City of Boston would increase government
openness and the availability of information about government and its proceedings;
allow and encourage citizens to participate in government and civic life; improve the
extent to which city departments work together, or the city government works with
private organizations; develop innovation and interest in civic applications, new
ideas, and new solutions to problems; and, progress civic development, economic
improvement, or other aspects of community growth; NOW

 That the following shall take effect immediately upon passage:

a) The purpose of this Article is: 

i. to make the workings of the people’s city as transparent as possible within the 
boundaries of the law; 

ii. to empower citizens through the democratization of information; 

iii. to mobilize citizens to use city data to create innovative civic tools to improve the 
city’s quality of life; 

iv. to create social and economic benefits stemming from increased accessibility to 
city data.

a) “Agency” means an office, administration, department, division, bureau, board, 
commission, advisory committee or other governmental entity performing a 
governmental function of the city of Boston.’ 

b) “Chief Information Officer” means the head of the city’s Department of Innovation and 
Technology or its successor agency. 

c) “Chief Procurement Officer” means the head of the city’s Procurement Department or its successor agency. 

d) “Department of Innovation and Technology” means the city’s information technology 
department or its successor agency. 

e) “Data” means final versions of statistical, factual, geographical information (1) in 
alphanumeric form reflected in a list, table, graph, chart or other non-narrative form, that 
can be digitally transmitted or processed; and (2) regularly created or maintained by or on 
behalf of and owned by an agency that records a measurement, transaction, or 
determination related to the mission of an agency. Such term shall not include 
information that is confidential, privileged, copyrighted, patented, or otherwise protected 
by law. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prohibit an agency from voluntarily 
disclosing information not otherwise defined as “data” in this subdivision, nor shall it be 
deemed to prohibit an agency from making such voluntarily disclosed information 
accessible through the single web portal established pursuant to Section 3. 

f) “Public data” means data available for disclosure. 

g) “Public Participation” means consulting interested stakeholders through a series of 
public meetings or an online forum accessible to the public. 

h) “Data portal” means or its successor website. 

a) Within one year of the effective date of this Article, all agencies shall, in compliance with 
the rules and standards set pursuant to Section 4(b) make public data available on the 
Internet through the data portal.

a) All agencies shall: 

i. make reasonable efforts to make publicly available all data under the agency’s control 
in compliance with the rules, guidelines, and technical standards promulgated by the 
Chief Information Officer (CIO). If the agency is unable to disclose particular data 
sets, it must report its reasons to the CIO and the City Council; 

ii. designate one Data Coordinator (“DC”) no later than 3 months after the effective date 
of this Article, who will oversee implementation and compliance with applicable 
Open Data Policies. The DC shall prepare a public Open Data plan for the agency, 
which shall include a timeline, a summary description of all data sets under the 
control of the agency, and proposed data sets to be made public data. The DC shall 
also attend interagency advisory group meetings at the request of the CIO. The DC 
shall create an online mechanism for public participation in order to receive feedback 
regarding the agency’s public data. The DC shall respond to the feedback when 
appropriate in a timely manner. 

b) The CIO of the City of Boston shall have the following responsibilities: 

i. After public participation and consultation with the agencies, create rules and 
guidelines to determine which data sets are appropriate for public disclosure. These 
rules and guidelines shall be made publicly available on or its 
successor website. These rules and guidelines shall be promulgated within a year of 
the effective date and amended as needed. 

ii. After public participation and consultation with the agencies, create technical 
standards to ensure the public data’s uniformity of format(s), machine readability, 
and accessibility to the public at no cost. These technical standards shall be made 
publicly available on or its successor website. These technical 
standards shall be promulgated within a year of the effective date of this Article and 
amended as needed. 

iii. After public participation and consultation with agencies, develop terms of use that 
makes public data free of charge. The terms of use shall be promulgated within a 
year of the effective date of this Article and amended as needed. 

iv. Work with the Chief Procurement Officer to develop contract provisions to promote 
open data policies in the City’s procurement. 

v. In promulgating rules, guidelines, technical standards, or other open data policies, 
appropriately consider and balance the benefits of open data and government 
transparency with the need to protect from disclosure that is proprietary, 
confidential, privileged, or protected by other applicable law or contract. 

vi. Convene an interagency advisory group composed of DCs when necessary. 

vii. Provide an annual public report to the Mayor and City Council on the 
implementation, progress, and evolution of the city’s Open Data policies. 

viii. Establish an online mechanism for public participation in order to receive and
respond to feedback regarding public data and open data policies. 

ix. Proactively partner with other cities and localities, the Massachusetts Bay 
Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and other 
relevant entities as appropriate to expand the city’s public data to reflect and meet 
the needs of the actual lived experience in the Boston metro area. 

c) The Department of Innovation and Technology shall: 

i. maintain and keep secure the data portal. 

ii. provide education and analytical tools for agencies to improve their open data efforts; 

iii. assist agencies with open data policy compliance by working with the DCs, collecting 
and reviewing agencies’ proposed public data; 

iv. analyze and report the usage of open data on the data portal.

a) Public data made available on the City of Boston’s data portal shall be provided as a 
public service, on an “as is” basis, and for informational purposes only. Although the 
City will strive to ensure that such public data are accurate, the City shall make no 
warranty, representation or guaranty of any type as to the content, accuracy, timeliness, 
completeness or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any public data provided on 
such portal; no shall any such warranty be implied, including, without limitation, the 
implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The City shall 
assume no liability for: 

i. any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in the public data provided on the data portal 
regardless of how caused; or 

ii. any decision made or action take or not taken by anyone using or relying upon such 
public data; or 

iii. any virus or other damage to any computer that might occur during or as a result of 
accessing such portal or the public data provided therein; or 

iv. any other act identified in any disclaimer of liability or indemnification provision or 
any other provision set forth in the Terms of Use required under Section 4(b)(iii) of 
this Article. 

b) The data portal and all public data contained on such portal shall be subject to the terms of use required under Section 4(b)(iii) of this Article. Such Terms of Use shall be posted by DOIT in a conspicuous place on the data portal. 

c) The City shall reserve the right to discontinue availability of content on the data portal at any time and for any reason. If a data set is made accessible by a city agency on the data portal and such city agency is notified or otherwise learns that any data set or portion thereof posted on the data portal is factually inaccurate or misleading or is protected data, the city agency shall, as appropriate, promptly correct or remove, or cause to be corrected or removed, such data from the data portal and shall so inform the CIO. 

d) Nothing in this Article shall be construed to create a private right of action to enforce any provision of this Article Failure to comply with any provision of this Article shall not result in any liability to the City. 
Filed on: April 9, 2014 

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