Mayor Yarber Opens Up City Data | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mayor Yarber Opens Up City Data

Mayor Tony Yarber presented the second draft of his budget this week. Meanwhile, abandoned properties are going on the block, some JSU students finally have a place to sleep, and the City says it’s getting serious about open data.

Mayor Tony Yarber presented the second draft of his budget this week. Meanwhile, abandoned properties are going on the block, some JSU students finally have a place to sleep, and the City says it’s getting serious about open data. Photo by Imani Khayyam.

Mayor Tony Yarber is opening up. Specifically, his administration is developing an open-data policy for the City of Jackson.

This week, he signed an executive order to "codify and standardize open-data processes and policies to share data openly with residents, as well as internally." In laymen's terms, the City will create a portal within its existing website to make public information more readily available. 
 Yarber stressed that the new system would not replace the open-records process, but make it easier for citizens to retrieve some documents without filing requests.

"If there's anything to show that we're serious, it's giving you a portal that's clean of red tape, and (citizens) not having to go through the process of open-records requests as often as you would normally have to ... for information that should be readily available," he said.

Yarber added that the policy will "ensure staff across city departments understand the purpose of data collection, regularly collect and publish data, and make decisions based on such data." The mayor added that the system would complement an open-government database system that the city council approved and is developing.

In August, the City announced that it would participate in What Works Cities, a $42-million Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded national initiative. The Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University will consult with Jackson on its system. Within 30 days, Yarber expects to form a governance committee to coordinate the project with a final plan developed with in two months.

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