The first statewide, open access dataset tracking public records requests in New Jersey – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  State freedom of information laws are vital mechanisms for providing public access to government records and supporting civic engagement through the effectuation of a public policy of transparency at the state level within the United States, not unlike their federal counterpart, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). New Jersey state law facilitates public access to government records under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Codified at N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq., OPRA applies to state, county and local public authorities but exempts the judicial and legislative branches from its disclosure requirements. Since OPRA took effect in 2002, it has been difficult to track the full extent of law’s impact across New Jersey’s 21 counties, 565 municipalities, and numerous state agencies, school districts and independent authorities, all of which must individually respond to requests under the law. To the best of the author’s knowledge, no official source has compiled detailed metadata tracking the content and disposition of OPRA requests at the state, regional and municipal levels within New Jersey using individual requests, and authorities rarely proactively disclose their responses to requests they receive, necessitating further data collection to support research into the impacts of this law. This article presents the OPRAmachine dataset: data containing detailed metadata on public records requests submitted to state & local public authorities in New Jersey since October 2017 collected through the implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) to facilitate the freedom of information request process. The data was collected using an open-source web interface that allowed users to submit an OPRA request to public authorities, with responses stored in a database and made available via the internet. After their request received a response, users were asked to answer a single survey question describing the status of their request, with their answer used to classify the request. Descriptive statistics, tables and frequencies were produced for the dataset and are included in this article. These data will assist state policymakers and other interested parties with assessing trends in OPRA requests across multiple types of public authorities & geographic regions. These data can inform more efficient government records management procedures, foster civic engagement by increasing government transparency and can inform the development of possible reforms to the OPRA law by showing trends in requests & responses that can be used to evaluate the law’s implementation throughout the state.

 

Support Centre for Data Sharing

“The?“Support Centre for Data Sharing” (SCDS)?is a new initiative funded by the European Commission to further support the development of the?Digital Single Market. Our objective is to facilitate data sharing, i.e. transactions in which data held by public sector or private sector are made available to other organisations (public or private) for use and re-use. Data sharing can happen in exchange for payment (or other reward) or for free. Success of data sharing depends on practices, technology, cultural elements and legal frameworks that are relevant to sharing any kind of information digitally, between individuals or organisations. …”

The U.S. Needs a National Data Service – Scientific American

“And we can do something about it. We can build supporting data infrastructures. We have had massive successes in the past with creating infrastructures that respond to national needs, including the Manhattan Project, the moon landing, and the establishment of the National Weather Service after the devastating Galveston hurricane in 1900. To fix this problem we need three separate actions: …”

Victory! EFF Defends Public’s Right to Access Court Records About Patent Ownership

“The public’s right of access to court proceedings is well-established as a legal principle, but it needs constant defending. In part, that’s because private parties keep asking publicly-funded courts to resolve their disputes in secret. As we and others have written before, this problem is especially great in patent cases, where parties on opposite sides of a case often agree with each other to keep as much of the litigation as possible hidden from view. That deprives the public of material it has every right to see that could affect its rights to engage, like documents establishing (or undermining) a patent owner’s right to bring suit on the basis of a patent which they claim to own….

The Federal Circuit’s decision is a victory for the public, which has waited far too long to see court records to which it has a strong presumption of rightful access. It is also a defeat for Uniloc, which tried, but failed, to avoid the default rule of public access throughout these proceedings. We hope this outcome sends a strong message to Uniloc and other patent litigants that their preference for secrecy cannot overcome the public’s right to know what happens in our courts.”

Covid-19 data is a public good. The US government must start treating it like one. | MIT Technology Review

“Earlier this week as a pandemic raged across the United States, residents were cut off from the only publicly available source of aggregated data on the nation’s intensive care and hospital bed capacity. When the Trump administration stripped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of control over coronavirus data, it also took that information away from the public….”

Documenting COVID-19

“Documenting COVID-19 is a repository of searchable documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic obtained through state open-records laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Click on a state for details about the 57 document sets available as of July 14, 2020, and news coverage that have used those materials….”

Documenting COVID-19

“Documenting COVID-19 is a repository of searchable documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic obtained through state open-records laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Click on a state for details about the 57 document sets available as of July 14, 2020, and news coverage that have used those materials….”

Author Talk: Democratizing our Data by Julia Lane Tickets, Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 12:30 PM | Eventbrite

“Just as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook have led the world in the use of data for profit, the United States can show the world how to produce data for the public good. Lane calls for a more automated, transparent, and accountable framework for creating high-quality public data that would empower citizens and inspire the government that serves them….”

Unforgotten: the people, lost and found, in receipt of social care – Future Care Capital

“Our own work has made extensive use of publicly available data and, to help others, we have produced a Social Care Data Finder which comprises of a timeline with links to social care datasets that have been openly published in the UK since January 1st 2020. The aim is to maintain a data finder that can be used as a resource for social care research, so the timeline will be updated at regular intervals to capture the publication of new datasets and we welcome suggestions for inclusion. At present, our Social Care Data Finder serves as a portal to data published by pertinent national bodies, but we will move to incorporate local datasets and others in due course….”

Call for Evidence: Use of Open Government Data in COVID-19 Outbreak – Google Docs

“The OECD Secretariat, through the Digital Government and Data Unit, is calling for evidence on the release and use of Open Government Data (OGD) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We would like to hear from you about what data are being released and how different actors (such as entrepreneurs, media, researchers, CSOs, and the own public sector) are innovating with them to support countries’ policies and actions….”