LA Open Acres is about transparency. It’s people and neighborhoods knowing about information that impacts the places where they live, learn, work, and play. Currently, data about vacant land is too hard to access–this means that the people that are able to access it sometimes have a louder voice in what gets developed and what does not. We want to change this. We feel everyone should get a fair shot in determining what happens next door. For this, we support efforts at the City and County data to increase public access to data. Let us know what you think in the comments.

The article below appears in Community Health Councils’ Health Matters LA – February issue. To sign-up for a monthly policy review on health, healthcare, and environmental issues in LA please click here. In addition be sure to visit Control Panel LA an initiative by LA City Controller Ron Galperin to make the city’s finances more transparent. Also, Mayor Garcetti hired Peter Marx as Chief Innovation Technology Officer–you can read more here.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Mayor Garcetti displays new data available on City websites. Photo credit: Associated Press

On December 18, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released an Executive Directive to make raw data collected by city departments available in easy-to-find and accessible formats. The effort, a move to promote transparency and accountability, directs the General Manager of the Information Technology Agency and the Mayor’s Deputy for Budget and Innovation to create an Open Data Portal that will provide a consolidation point for the city’s massive trove of data. Additionally, the Mayor asks each city department (including the proprietary departments like the Department of Water and Power, LA World Airports, and the Port of Los Angeles) to upload and update all appropriate data sets and make them accessible online in a timely and regular manner. Finally, the directive encourages city departments to work with local partners like non-profits, civic-minded developers, and universities to collaborate.

Open data initiatives in large cities including New YorkChicagoPhiladelphiaSan Francisco, and nationally at Data.gov have spurred innovation, increased government transparency, and aided in making government more responsive to the needs of stakeholders. In Los Angeles real and perceived regulations along with often hefty fees can impede easy access to open data and greatly hinder civic engagement.

While the Mayor’s directive is an exciting one with great potential to decentralize innovation and ideation, it remains to be seen how readily the departments will take up the cause and just how much specific data will be released. The  Sunlight Foundation, a leading national crusader of open data, provides ten principles for opening up government information which serve as a good rubric to assess the city’s efforts. Organizations and projects across Los Angeles, including CHC’s LA Open Acres, are ready, willing, and able to take up the Mayor’s challenge of partnering with the city to assist in making a strong, healthy, and equitable Los Angeles.