New York to launch site to improve transparency

By Kelly McCarthy

March 13, 2013 Updated Nov 23, 2013 at 12:52 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The latest step in Governor Cuomo's initiative to "Open New York" is a new website that holds information on local, state, and federal governments.

The website "open.ny.gov" is part of the governor's initiative to use technology to better engage citizens. It's goal Cuomo outlined in his 2013 State of the State address.

"Here we have the state government pushing data out, posting it online, and enabling anyone to use the data in ways that were unimaginable not so long ago," said Robert Freeman, executive director of the state's Committee on Open Government.

The public access gives the average user the power to find answers on their own.

Some say this could help reconnect citizens with their government.

"There's a lot of literature that goes back over 20 years on how alienated the average citizen is from their government," said Douglas Garnar, history and social science professor at Broome Community College. "Even at the local level let alone the federal and state level."

The website uses social media to engage users and the most popular search so far is a list of New York State Apps for cell phones.

"I think what's really crucial is this is a technology that will really be an interest to people under 30 years of age," Garnar said. "I think young people in particular who tend to be really alienated from politics in general..having a technology they're very comfortable with, I think really opens up the opportunity for engaging them."

The website includes interactive maps, a twitter feed and mobile applications to encourage the public to learn more about all aspects of New York State's government. It's a new tool being pushed by the state that could help all levels of government.

"Well first of all it might mean more people would go out and vote because we would better inform citizens. I mean, informed citizens usually have a passion to be involved in the political process," Garnar said.

New York is one of eight states that have open data websites for the public. According to Cuomo's office, making data accessible to the public has shown to reduce costs, improve efficiency and shed light on the government process in other states.

"My guess is that New York will move ahead of other states in this country in providing data, if you will, on any number of subjects to anyone, anywhere in the world," Freeman said.

According to Cuomo's office, an Executive Order has been issued for all state agencies to make their collected data available on the website.