2014 Providence Mayoral Open Data Survey

Dear Candidate,

We are Code Island, the Code for America Rhode Island Brigade. We are part of a national movement of citizens, technologists, and public servants working together to improve the quality of life in the State of Rhode Island through the use of information and technology. Our members from across the state have collaborated to prepare the 2014 Providence Mayoral Open Data Survey.

Since creating the Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability in 2011 and launching the City’s Open Data Portal and Open Meeting Portal in 2013, Providence has improved the availability of government data and its capability to host it. However, as our D+ rating in transparency from RIPIRG last year indicates, there is room for improvement.

Democracy is rooted in a historic tradition of transparency and public service, and open data policy will bring that tradition into the 21st century. Open data benefits people, even if they don’t use technology themselves. Residents become better informed by stronger journalism. Neighborhood groups and nonprofits have better access to resources to serve people in their community. Government departments increase efficiency through inter-departmental communication and data-driven decisions.

Finally, open data enables commercial businesses and social entrepreneurs to pursue new enterprises, which create new jobs and increase the tax base. We hope the next mayor of Providence will support an open data policy as part of a transparent, efficient and innovative city government. Open data will enable our residents and communities to benefit from the wide range of valuable data our city government already maintains. A growing number of cities have passed open data legislation.

Included with this letter is a short questionnaire regarding open data. Please tell us your thoughts on the best open data policy for the City of Providence government by October 10, 2014. We have sent this request to all mayoral candidates and will publish the responses prior to the general election at http://code-island.org/.

If you are unfamiliar with open data, we have also provided a short FAQ. We are also happy to answer any questions at census@code-island.org.

Thank you for your consideration, The Members of Code Island.