NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — At Tuesday’s Normal Town Council meeting, Town Director of Innovation and Technology Vasudha Gadhiraju previewed a new feature coming to the town’s website Wednesday: an open data portal.
Town of Normal Data Specialist Spencer Lerch showed meeting attendees features on the portal, including: A public safety feature, showing Normal Police daily activity and events they respond to, A business license feature showing licensed businesses, building permits, and licensed contractors in town, and a budget and finances feature, showing the town’s financial data.
Town staff said this portal will help increase transparency between town government and the community, and while it will start with basic features, it will be continuously improved upon and added too based on feed back from staff and the public.
Council member Karyn Smith had questions for town staff about privacy and safety regarding access to any private information on the portal.
“How comfortable are you that the security measures in place, while we want this to be available for people to view, we also don’t want it to be hacked, for someone to modify if or change it,” said Smith.
Gadhiraju assured Smith that any private information is scrubbed, and would not be published to the portal.
Mayor Chris Koos clarified, any information on the portal would be information that could be FOIA’d if requested.
Councilman Kevin McCarthy alluded that the open data portal could help the town economically as well.
“From an economic development perspective, local organizations can see that, companies that want to know this kind of information to come and locate here, or new people that are looking to market to our residents,” said McCarthy.
Later during the concerns portion of council, Councilman Scott Preston inquired to Corporation Counsel Brian Day, the procedure for rescinding or revisiting a vote on the town’s participation with the National Fitness Campaign on an outdoor fitness court.
Councilman Preston indicated when town staff said they believed the organization was a not-for-profit, it affected his views.
Mayor Koos indicated this was an innapropriate question for the concerns portion of the meeting, and should be brought up with Day after the meeting had ended, but assured Preston his concerns would be addressed later.