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Representative Kreiss-Tomkins Bill Would Allow Easy, Online Access to Public Records

Legislation would improve transparency, help new businesses

JUNEAU - Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) introduced open data legislation on Friday establishing an online data portal to allow Alaskans to easily access public records from one central website – basically, a data.gov equivalent for the State of Alaska.

"Alaskans deserve easy access to State of Alaska data,” said Kreiss-Tomkins. “As proven by other states with data portals created by similar law, transparency and easy access to public data prove to be a tremendous economic driver and a boon for entrepreneurs and online start-ups.”

The bill (HB337) requires state agencies to provide all public records already in electronic form to a website administrator. Municipalities would also be able to take advantage of the central website to post their public records. Data would have to be posted in simple, easy to understand, non-proprietary, and cross-platform formats. The site would be available to the public by July 2016.

With easy data accessibility, entrepreneurs can create applications that process, interpret, and use public data in new and innovative ways. Open data policies elsewhere have led to the development of user-friendly, interactive websites for viewing education and crime statistics as well as mobile apps allowing people to check the workplace safety records of businesses, get instant notification if their car is towed, and see where road work is happening.

Currently, public records are published on the websites of individual agencies, or must be requested by phone or email. It can be difficult for individuals to determine which agency has the data they are looking for, or whether that information is available at all, and data may not always be in easily usable formats.

HB337 was referred to the House State Affairs and House Finance committees.

 

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