19 June 2009

Opening up: New York Senate's Doing It *Now*

Vancouver may have promised that it will do it, the New York Senate is actually opening up completely now:

Welcome to the Open NYSenate

To pursue its commitment to transparency and openness the New York State Senate is undertaking a cutting-edge program to not only release data, but help empower citizens and give back to the community. Under this program the New York Senate will, for the first time ever, give developers and other users direct access to its data through APIs and release its original software to the public. By placing the data and technological developments generated by the Senate in the public domain, the New York Senate hopes to invigorate, empower and engage citizens in policy creation and dialogue.


Original Software

As a user of Open-Source software the New York Senate wants to help give back to the community that has given it so much - including this website. To meet its needs the Senate is constantly devleoping new code and fixing existing bugs. Not only does the Senate recognize that it has a responsibility to give back to the Open Source community, but public developments, made with public money should be public.


Data Sets

The New York Senate's Open Data page is the official repository of all government data. There you can browse through data produced by and considered by the Senate in their original forms as well as various other file types created for your convenience; including but not limited to: Excel spreadsheets, .csv, text files and PDFs. To supplement the source data it is making available, the Senate has also created the Plain Language Initiative designed to help explain complex data sets and legal terms in plain language.


Open-Source Software & Software Licenses

In order to make the Senate's information and software as public as possible, it is has adopted unique system using two types of licenses - GNU General Public License as well as the BSD License. This system is meant to ensure the most public license is used in each specific case such that:

(i) Any Software released containing components with preexisting GPL copyrights must be released pursuant to a GPL v3 copyright restriction.

(ii) Any Software created independently by the Senate without any preexisting licensing restrictions on any of its components shall be released under dual licensing and take one of two forms: (a) a BSD license, or (b) a GPL v3 license. The ultimate user of such Software shall choose which form of licensing makes the most sense for his or her project.

This is getting too easy: I want more of a challenge to opening up government.

Anyway, kudos to all involved - great move.

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