Open Data Policy

Section 1: Purpose 

1. To promote transparency and accountability for residents, visitors, and other stakeholders through the publication of quality, local Open Data.
2. Dumfries Open Data provides electronic access to Town datasets in consumable formats. Providing this information gives staff and the public an opportunity to review and analyze raw data and to use it for a variety of purposes.
3. This Policy establishes a procedure for systematically identifying, inventorying, and publishing datasets that:
  • Increase accountability and responsiveness:
  • Improve public knowledge of the Town's activities and operations;
  • Further the mission of the Town;
  • Foster environment for economic prosperity;
  • Respond to public needs; and
  • Foster civic engagement.

Section 2: Definitions

1. “Data” means statistical, factual, quantitative, or qualitative information that is maintained or created by or on behalf of a Town agency. This definition is inclusive of software source code developed or maintained by or on behalf of the Town.
2. “Dataset” means a named collection of related records, with the collection containing data organized or formatted in a specific or prescribed way, often in tabular form.
3. “Open data” means data that is available online, in an open format, with no known legal encumbrances on use or reuse, and is available for all to access and download in full without fees or requirement of registration. Legal encumbrances may include, but are not limited to, federal copyright protections and other, non-statutory legal limitations on how or under what conditions a dataset may be used. This definition is also inclusive of any software source code made available online (open source software).
4. “Open format” means any widely accepted, nonproprietary, platform-independent, machine- readable data format, which permits automated processing of such data and facilitates analysis and search capabilities. 
5. “Protected information” means any dataset or portion thereof to which an agency may deny access pursuant to federal, state, or local government law or regulation.
6.“Publishable data” means data which is not protected or sensitive and which has been prepared for release to the public
7. “Sensitive information” means any data which, if published by the Town online, could raise privacy, confidentiality or security concerns or have the potential to jeopardize public health, safety or welfare to an extent that is greater than the potential public benefit of publishing that data.

Section 3: Dumfries Open Data Program 

1. The Town commits to develop and implement practices that will:
  • Proactively release publishable Town data, making it available in appropriately varied and useful open formats, using an open license with no restrictions on use or reuse, and fully accessible to the broadest range of users to use for varying purposes;
  • Continuously publish high quality, updated data, with documentation (metadata) that includes the creation process and permanence to encourage maximum use;
  • Provide or support access to free, historical archives of all released Town data;
  • Measure the effectiveness of datasets made available through the Dumfries Open Data Program by connecting open data efforts to the Town’s programmatic priorities;
  • Minimize limitations on the disclosure of public information while appropriately safeguarding protected and sensitive information; and
  • Support innovative uses of the Town’s publishable data by agencies, the public, and other partners.
  • Ensure all data sets contain unique identifiers so that users can verify historical consistency of data.
  • Encourage electronic methods of data collection to avoid inefficiencies of paper- based filing systems and make real-time disclosures possible
2. The development and implementation of these practices shall be overseen by the Dumfries Open Data Program Manager.
3. The requirements of this Policy shall apply to all Town Departments, including the records of third-party contractors that create or acquire information, records, or data on behalf of a Town Department.
4. Appropriate funding shall be made available to achieve the goals of this program.

Section 4: Governance

1. Implementation of the Program will be overseen by the Dumfries Open Data Program Manager, who will work with Town Departments to:
  • Identify and publish appropriate contact information for a lead open data coordinator for each Town Department who will be responsible their Department’s participation.
  • Oversee the creation of a comprehensive inventory of datasets held by each Town Department which is published to the central open data location and is regularly updated;
  • Develop and implement a process for determining the relative level of risk and public benefit associated with potentially sensitive, non-protected information so as to make a determination about whether and how to publish it;
  • Develop and implement a process for prioritizing the release of datasets which takes into account new and existing signals of interest from the public (such as the frequency of public records requests), the Town's programmatic priorities, existing opportunities for data use in the public interest, and cost;
  • Proactively consult with members of the public, Town staff, colleges and universities, researchers, and other stakeholders to identify the datasets which will have the greatest benefit to if published;
  • Establish processes for publishing datasets to the central open data location, including processes for ensuring that datasets are high quality, up to date, in use-appropriate formats, and exclude protected and sensitive information;
  • Ensure that appropriate metadata is provided for each dataset in order to facilitate its use;
  • Develop and oversee a routinely updated, public timeline for new dataset publication;
  • Make recommendations for historical document inclusion and define a schedule for approved historical document publication
  • Ensure that published datasets are available for bulk download and/or available via public application programming interfaces (“APIs”) without legal encumbrance.
  • Encourage Department and public participation through providing regular opportunities for feedback and collaboration.

Section 5: Central Online Location for Published Data

1. The Town will create and maintain a publicly available location on the Town's website where published data will be available for download.
2. Published datasets shall be placed into the public domain, with no restrictions or requirements placed on use of these datasets.
3. Each published dataset should be associated with contact information for the appropriate manager of that dataset as well as with a file layout or data dictionary that provides information about field labels and values.
4. Departments will specify a recommended data citation form available for viewing to encourage responsible reuse of Town data.

Section 6: Open Data Report and Review 

1. Within one year of the effective date of this Policy, and thereafter no later than July 1st of each year, the Open Data Program Manager shall publish an annual Open Data Report. The report shall include an assessment of progress toward achievement of the goals of the Town’s Open Data Program, an assessment of how the Town’s open data work has furthered or will further strategic priorities.
2. During the review and reporting period, the Open Data Program Manager may also make suggestions for improving the Town’s open data management processes in order to ensure that the Town continues to move toward the achievement of the policy’s goals.