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Why Publish Data?

One of the first questions departments often ask when learning about open data is “Why should my department release data?” There are a number of reasons, both practical and philosophical, why releasing data can benefit your department and the people it serves.
  • Stimulate new ideas and services. By releasing open data, city departments may help to stimulate new and innovative ideas from our local technology community.
  • Increase internal data sharing. Open data can also help with some of our internal challenges accessing data between departments. Right now, analysts often rely on personal relationships to access data from other departments. DataSF can provide a platform to share data internally.
  • Simplify Sunshine Requests. Open data releases can be an effective way of responding to requests for data through the City’s Sunshine Ordinance.
  • Changing how we use data. Ultimately, open data can serve as a platform to change how we use, share and consume our data externally and internally; transform data into services, and foster continuous improvement in decision-making and the business of government. Ultimately, open data is about enabling use of data to help support a range of positive outcomes:

San Francisco's Open Data Portal

​DataSF ( is the City and County of San Francisco’s open data portal. DataSF is hosted by a vendor, Socrata (Aka Tyler: Data & Insights). DataSF allows users to find, visualize and use our data, whether developing novel applications, performing analysis, or combining the data across multiple agencies to support new services.
An Open Data Policy is also in San Francisco's Administrative Code - Section 22(d) which created the Open Data Program and outlines the benefits such as:
  • (1) enhanced government transparency and accountability;
  • (2) development of new analyses or applications based on the unique data the City provides;
  • (3) mobilization of San Francisco's high-tech workforce to use City data to create useful civic tools at no cost to the City; and
  • (4) creation of social and economic benefits based on innovation in how residents interact with government stemming from increased accessibility to City data sets.