The Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously to codify an existing data sharing practice into law.
Mayor Greg Fischer created the city’s open data portal through a Executive Decree nearly a decade ago. Jecorey Arthur, board member for Democratic District 4, which sponsored the legislation, said it made the database permanent.
“We can’t be transparent if we keep data…and we can’t be informed if public information isn’t publicly available,” Arthur said last week. “If you can access this data portal and get the same information you need, instead of calling 311, calling a council office, or calling the mayor’s office, it will be much faster for you.”
The measure also adds a requirement for the Metro Council to review the open data policy annually and allows the body to make revisions to it and expand the scope of information available.
The open data portal includes information such as pending property maintenance requests, government employee salaries, and a local sex offender registry. It also offers public health information, including the number of COVID-19 infections by age and vaccination rates in different regions.
The measure aims to facilitate access to data from public documents, but not everything will be published automatically. Some files will continue to be released only in response to an open records request. The new order requires individual city departments to upload public data, as long as they don’t violate privacy laws or pose a security threat.
District 19 Councilman Anthony Piagentini, a Republican, expressed support for the effort and stressed the importance of easy access to public information.
“That’s one of the things that I see people of all political persuasions agree on, which is that we need a lot more transparency in government. So that’s a wonderful thing – it ensures that whoever mayor comes forward, we have that code of law,” Piagentini said.
Since the measure codifies an existing practice, it will not cost the City more in terms of labor or financial resources.
The city’s Office of Civic Innovation and Technology is also working to add information on police use of force and 911 calls, as well as property deeds and transfers. The bureau will also use public feedback to expand the categories of data available.
Open data sharing would not have been immediately affected if the Metro Council had rejected the measure. However, the new ordinance prohibits future municipal governments from abandoning this practice.