Barbara Cohn

Chief Data Officer, New York
by Jessica Mulholland | March 24, 2016 AT 12:00 AM

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New York’s first chief data officer isn’t releasing data just for the sake of it.

“We want to change the conversation from quantity to quality,” said Barbara Cohn, who started working for the state in 2012 and quickly turned around impressive accomplishments, including a much-lauded Open Data Handbook and the OpenNY portal. Cohn credited executive sponsorship from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a great team with allowing work on the state’s open data efforts to move along so quickly.

Success is also attributed to the Quality by Design approach that Cohn enlisted — focusing not only on the raw data, but also ensuring that the public can understand it. Every data set on OpenNY comes with information to give it context: data dictionaries, an overview document that provides a narrative about the data and its source, and the metadata.

“It’s simply not enough to just publish the raw data,” said Cohn, later adding, “We firmly believe that by maximizing the understanding, we’re going to maximize the utility and the value of that data.”

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