Open Data Portal Launches

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News Date: 
July 31, 2018
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Salinas Launches Open Data Portal
To Share Information and
Boost Government Transparency

Salinas, CA - The City of Salinas today launched an Open Data Portal, at The City's goals for this new web tool are to create a more transparent government, make valuable data accessible to all, including innovators and entrepreneurs, and give residents greater insight into how government decisions are made.


The portal will present information in forms that are easy to understand, such as visuals and stories, and will require no technical skills to use.


Content will be organized under the headings of Economic Development, Safety, Planning and Community Development, Transportation and Infrastructure, Quality of Life, and High-Performing Government. Those categories correspond to the top strategic priorities of the City Council.


The portal is designed to cut across "data silos." That means information from different departments can be brought together to provide the most meaningful and useful results.


For example, someone interested in the potential impact of biking in Salinas can see an interactive map that overlays bikeways with school locations, like this:


Map of bikeways and school locations


"Cities collect a lot of data, but if it isn't easy to find, or to figure out what it means, much of its value can go untapped," said Eric Sandoval, the City's GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Administrator. "The Open Data Portal is designed to change that, and that's the most exciting part for us: that so much value becomes available to everyone."


The GIS Services Division of the Public Works Department is behind other data-sharing work for the City, including the Map Gallery on the City website. For the portal project, the GIS team worked with members of all City departments.


The City developed the portal with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative, which describes its mission as "helping cities across the United States use data and facts effectively to tackle their most pressing challenges."


"We're proud to have Salinas as part of our community of cities committed to driving better results for residents by making data the foundation of running an effective local government," said Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities. "The new portal is an important milestone in the City's journey toward better decision-making, transparency, and resident engagement."

The support Salinas received included technical assistance from experts at What Works Cities partner the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University. GovEx helps governments "use data to make informed decisions and improve people's quality of life."


"Congratulations to the City of Salinas on launching its new Open Data Portal. Since our work there, the City has demonstrated a strong commitment to creating greater transparency for the public, particularly around economic development," said Lena Geraghty, GovEx Senior Advisor. "The portal will enable residents to have a greater understanding of how services are delivered and their impact on the community. It will further open up City Hall and add new lines of communication."


The portal builds on What Works Cities partner the Sunlight Foundation to develop the City's Open Data Policy, which was adopted by the City Council in June of 2017.


The Sunlight Foundation is "a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses civic technologies, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all."


The portal was built on a platform created by OpenDataSoft, which develops "data sharing solutions that allow users to easily publish, manage, combine, analyze, visualize, and share data in a variety of formats on a single platform." The firm operates in 17 countries, with clients that include municipalities across the United States.