Open Government Boosts Public Confidence in Government and Helps
Researchers Get Fullest Possible Picture in Fight Against COVID-19
Seven government watchdogs sent a letter to Governor Cuomo today asking that the state place as much COVID-19 data as possible on the state’s open data portal. The groups lauded the Governor’s daily briefings on the state of the crisis, but noted that most of the data provided by the Governor and on the state’s COVID-19 tracker is not available as downloadable, machine-readable open data. Placing the state’s datasets in the open data portal, the groups said, would increase transparency and public confidence and make data more accessible to researchers across the world. The groups attached a chart comparing New York’s COVID-19 data with states that have provided more datasets for download, such as Washington and California.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo VIA EMAIL
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
April 30, 2020
Re: Please Publish the State’s COVID-19 Data as Open Data
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We write to ask you to publish as open data the tabular information the state has gathered about the COVID-19 emergency. This valuable public data is of great interest to researchers and journalists and will allow the informed public to contribute insights and analysis to the state’s effort to fight COVID-19.
We greatly appreciate your efforts to tell the public what is happening through daily press briefings, the online COVID-19 tracker and social media. We also wholeheartedly agree with the intent of your March 2013 Executive Order 95, which extols the value of open data in helping show the public what is happening.
Though the COVID-19 tracker is a valuable resource for those seeking local or demographic information about the virus’s impact, the state only provides a single dataset related to COVID-19 in its open data portal. We ask that the state make COVID-19 public data available as downloadable, machine-readable open data, which will vastly expand the use and thus value of state data gathered at great public expense.
We think it is reasonable to expect New York to provide as open data information that several other states have provided (see attached chart), such as the following:
- Daily trends of fatalities
- Daily trends of hospitalizations
- Number of ICU patients who have tested positive for COVID-19
- Percentage of hospitals responding to COVID-19 patients
Some of this information has been provided in the Governor’s daily press conferences, but none of it is available as open data. The state can fill the gap by simply providing the information in the tracker and the state’s open data portal.
New York State’s open data efforts have been ahead of the curve and Governor Cuomo’s daily COVID-19 briefings have been rightly lauded. We ask that New York continue to lead by opening all COVID-19 datasets to the public.
Laura Ladd Bierman
League of Women Voters New York State
National Freedom of Information Coalition
New York News Publishers Association
New York Public Interest Research Group