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The City of Buffalo to launch new open data portal in October to increase data access and transparency in local government

Mayor Byron W. Brown announced last week that the City has selected Socrata, a cloud-based solutions company that “allows government organizations to put their data online, make data-driven decisions, operate more efficiently, and share insights with citizens.”

In a statement, Mayor Brown added, “the City’s new open data portal will offer a great deal of data that will help us as we continue building a city of opportunity for all. The proactive public release of our data will also increase transparency of how the City of Buffalo functions, while offering residents, government leaders, businesses and researchers easy access to information that will provide opportunities for external analysis and generate new ideas on how to use information for the public good. Creation of the portal will also help us work smarter by increasing internal data sharing, improving workflow and end duplicative data collection, and give our City departments the ability to tell their everyday stories through interactive tables, charts, graphs, and maps.”

The City plans to launch the site in October, which will enable residents, businesses, media, researchers and developers to access datasets around citizen services, policing, parking, and more. Citizens will be able to access and download spreadsheets, engage with the data, that are updated as soon as new data enters the system.

“Our partnership with Socrata will bolster data-driven decision making in City Hall while also giving citizens greater insight into the day-to-day activities of the government,” said Kirk McLean, program manager of Open Data Buffalo. “For example, utilizing the Socrata platform, every commissioner will have the ability to quickly map 311 data to show where their department’s services are most in demand.”

The City of Buffalo says that it decided to partner with Socrata because they “wanted a new program to streamline and more efficiently deliver large amounts of data in a rapid, organized and easy-to-use manner.” Previously relying on PDFs, links, and websites, that were difficult to update and access, this platform promises to allow secure, automatic uploading and sharing of the City’s data, saving staff hours of time once spent on manual updates.

“We are excited to partner with the City of Buffalo to create an intuitive and efficient way for residents and businesses to access open data, regardless of their skill set,” said Kevin Merritt, founder and CEO of Socrata. “This transformation is significant because it updates how citizens and the City of Buffalo interact, increasing collaboration for improved quality of life.”

The City of Buffalo joins New York City and New York State as Socrata customers and leaders in the open data movement.

In addition to being used to access routine government records, Socrata was recently used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to put out information on hurricane shelters every 20 minutes by inputting the information into its geographic information system and creating a new web-based platform called Find Shelter. The small team was able to produce this program in three days. 

That’s the power of analytics. Now that Buffalo’s joined the Big Data revolution, it will be interesting to watch how the city and its citizens work together to innovate.

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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