Seattle pioneers safer way to handle public data

Smart City Chirine Etezadzadeh

How can cities ensure privacy and security when providing data as open source? Image source: Shutterstock (#510934873).

Seattle has been using a progressive, carefully considered approach to releasing public data for a while now, and is now hoping to be a pioneer with their model, showing cities around the world how to become smarter.

In Seattle, the decision was made to make all civic data ‘open by preference’ instead of ‘open by default’. “Policies were first developed with ‘open by default’ in mind, but that isn’t really feasible when you consider factors like privacy,” David Doyle, Open Data Program Manager for Seattle Information Technology, says. “Seattle took a more nuanced approach of being open by preference: This means we can be open [with data] once we mitigate for privacy risks, release of personally identifying information, and other kinds of harm.”

The city has also committed to an annual, publicly released risk assessment of this open data program.


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