Executive Summary

The City of San Diego is committed to the principles of open, accessible, efficient, and transparent government, as well the use of technology to help put those principles into practice. Mayor Faulconer created the Performance & Analytics Department on July 1, 2014. Its purpose is to focus on citywide efficiency, accountability, and transparency initiatives. On December 16, 2014, the Council passed the City's Open Data Policy with his strong support.

Opening up the City's data ties in directly with each of our Strategic Goals and allows us to monitor our progress in achieving them:

  • Provide High Quality Public Service
  • Work in partnership with all our communities to achieve safe and livable neighborhoods.
  • Create and sustain a resilient, economically prosperous City.

For additional background and history of the Open Data Program in the City, please refer to the following: http://bit.ly/sdodpres.

The guiding principle for the program is to get the proper stakeholders with the right skills, involved in a timely manner, equipped with the appropriate technology and accurate data to facilitate good decisions and innovative solutions for our residents.


The City collects, produces, and stores an enormous amount of data. A few examples include:

  • Crime data
  • Parking meter data
  • Traffic counts
  • Street paving activity

The data currently reside in a range of isolated and non-integrated data repositories, in multiple incompatible formats, and are managed by non-interoperable platforms. The data have the potential to drive deeper understanding of civic activity and policy, drive transparency and accountability, and make the City a more efficient and data-driven leader on the global civic landscape.

Properly enhanced and managed, the data has the potential to:

  • Facilitate decision-making by staff and policymakers.
  • Increase transparency, efficiency, and accountability.
  • Improve information sharing and use by City employees.
  • Allow the community to conduct analyses and build applications on top of the City’s data.

The City is committed to guiding this potential towards reality.

Benefits of Open Data

  1. Allow taxpayers to benefit from a more efficient, agile government that is capable of being responsive to them and able to deliver more with the same level of resources.
  2. Empower people to build applications that assist residents, start businesses around those applications, and contribute to the overall economic development of the City.
  3. Empower consumers of City data-based applications to have the most up-to-date, accurate and relevant information at their fingertips.
  4. Allow City employees to be more efficient and innovative by allowing them to get data from other departments more quickly and in an easily consumable format.
  5. Be recognized globally as a city government that reflects and supports the innovation of our surrounding community.

Open Data Program Goals

1. Increase data literacy within the City and with those who interact with the City.

There are various levels of understanding of what are data, metadata, Open Data, etc.

2. Manage data as an asset, formalizing existing oversight and ownership.

Take existing data management and responsibility structures, build on them and formalize them to create a robust data management program that would prevent data duplication and rework, as well as ensure sustainability of Open Data release.

3. Release data to the public via a strategic and predictable process.

Data releases must account for a multitude of factors including communications with stakeholders, data integrity, personally identifiable information (PII), and ensuring that we describe and release data in a way that meets Open Format specifications.

4. Ensure that data are well described and catalogued.

Understanding what data we have is crucial to both Open Data and data management. We worked with departments to create an initial inventory, and now we need to provide processes for how it can stay current.

5. Support increased use of data in decision making, as well as innovations in Open Data use.

We have a talented City workforce that makes data-driven decisions every day. In addition, fostering and expanding interest in government data from residents and other users is crucial to delivering the benefits of an Open Data program.

Where we are today

In the last 6 months, we have made significant progress on all 5 of our goals:

  • Consistent with the policy timeline, we issued the inventory guidelines on March 9, before the March 31, 2015 deadline.
  • By creating the City's first ever Data Inventory, we were able to:
    • Collect base level attributes about the City's data. (Goal 4)
    • Create a base knowledge of information at the City's disposal. (Goals 2, 4, 5)
    • Establish a competent group of information coordinators across the departments (All Goals)
    • Identify individuals currently working with specific sets of data. (Goal 2)
    • Begin to establish a common body of knowledge in the City about what data are. (Goal 1 and 5).
    • Understand which of the City's software systems are authoritative for various pieces of information. (Goal 2, 4, 5)
  • Consistent with the policy, a draft version of the Technical Guidelines is under review prior to release. (All Goals)
  • We are enhancing our engagement with the civic hacking community and other interested stakeholders. For example, the City participated in the National Day of Civic Hacking by co-hosting three events on June 5th and 6th. (Goal 5)

Next Steps

  • Perform a thorough analysis of inventory data.
  • Procure an Open Data Portal.
  • Make the inventory maintenance process routine and more efficient.
  • Continue to provide context to City data and engage with the community.
  • Continue refinement and updates of technical guidelines.
  • Identify high-value datasets and prioritize data for release.
  • Review and potentially update Open Data Policy.
  • Begin to release data by July 1, 2016.