PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Knowledge is power, says Mayor Bill Peduto, and local residents deserve to see all the data city officials see.
So the mayor has embraced an open data bill offered by Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.
“What we are announcing today is an open data platform that will provide all the information and data bases that we collect back to the public,” Peduto said during a press conference.
He says open access to city information — without going through lawyers or Freedom of Information Act requests — will improve services by making city officials more accountable to the public.
“All the complaints that have come in about potholes can easily be put on a map and you can look and see each week the number of potholes that have been reported, where they are being reported, what areas of the city are having the most problems,” the mayor said. “We can put together our entire pavement plan. You’ll be able to know the last time your street was paved, when it’s supposed to be paved.”
Rudiak said open information curbs behind-closed-doors political decision making.
“Clearly we need to make decisions based on need and not politics, and we need to address issues based on urgency and budgets, rather than the squeakiest wheel,” she added.
The mayor hopes tech geeks and entrepreneurs will create new apps for the the public, using city data.
KDKA Radio’s David Singer looks at new open data proposal from Mayor Bill Peduto and City Council Finance Chairwoman Natalia Rudiak.
“We’re giving them all the information that government had, and they’re giving us the innovation and the ability to think outside the box,” he said.
But he warned it won’t happen overnight, given the city’s old and obsolete equipment.
“Every single department in city government right now needs a tech upgrade,” he said. “Every single department the technology that is running it is woefully inadequate.”
The mayor says as city departments upgrade, they will do so with an eye on how to push more information out to the public online.
That includes everything from the location of the nearest snow plow to the latest crime statistics in your neighborhood.
Rudiak said 19 other cities have done variations of what she’s proposing.
Council must approve the measure, and public hearings are expected soon.