Law puts more data online


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Hawaii residents may soon find it easier to access public information about their state.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday signed a bill into law urging state agencies to make more data available online.

Specifically, it requires the departments to “use reasonable efforts” to place “electronic data sets” they maintain on the state’s data portal, data.hawaii.gov.

All information must be non-confidential, unless approved by the affected party.

The new law also encourages agencies to regularly update the information.

Rep. Clift Tsuji, D-Hilo, introduced the legislation. He couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The bill received support from open government advocates who said it makes sense in a digital age for as much public information to be made available online.

“Using current available technology coupled with emerging best practices, this bill would improve data accessibility to the public, encouraging citizen analysis of public data, and encourage civic engagement,” wrote Carmille Lim, Common Cause Hawaii executive director, in testimony on the legislation.

Others said the legislation takes away hurdles from accessing public information.

“It as if we are sitting on a gold mine but no on has the tools to mine the gold,” said Peter Kay, another testifier.

The law requires the state’s chief information officer and the Office of Information Practices to develop policies and procedures on implementing the new requirements.

That will include guidelines for departments and standards for choosing what information to use.

Information that is of minimal public interest, a personal or security risk, or otherwise inappropriate for online disclosure will not be required to be posted.

The law sets aside $100,000 to fund one full-time position for OIP to “promote open data.”

It also authorizes funding deemed necessary for the position for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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