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Portland City Council directs Smart City PDX and the Office of Equity and Human Rights to lead implementation of data privacy and information protection principles for City operations

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s (BPS) Smart City PDX (SCPDX) program, in collaboration with Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office and the Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR), proposed a new set of guidelines to Portland City Council today to help protect private and sensitive data managed by the City of Portland. The Citywide Privacy and Information Protection Principles resolution was approved with a unanimous vote.

“These privacy and information protection principles emerged from the need to build trust with communities and across City agencies around data and information management,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We are building the next generation of digital public services, services we will strive to make available to all Portlanders while minimizing risk and maximizing benefits.”

Why are these principles important for Portland?

In this new data-driven age, communities are more vulnerable to misuse of data, particularly marginalized communities. These principles highlight the importance of safeguards that guide City practices. Robust privacy and information protection are cornerstones for building trust across organizations and people. They are also an important foundation for developing policies to guide the City’s use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.

“This resolution is an example of community centered governing. The world of data and technology is quickly transforming the ways in which we travel, work, shop, receive medical care, basically everything in our daily lives,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who championed the resolution as Commissioner-in-Charge of the Office of Equity and Human Rights. “As local government, it is our civic duty to strike a balance between granting Portlanders easier access to key City services while upholding each person’s right to privacy.”

Resolving complex issues that Portland faces, like homelessness, traffic congestion and people’s mobility, transition to clean energy, and safe spaces for all may require the collaboration of multiple agencies and community organizations to exchange data. Without clear policies, procedures and resources dedicated to managing information using modern standards, this type of agile, responsible data use won’t be possible.

“Our City government collects data and information for different purposes—like when residents pay water bills or book classes through the Parks bureau,” said OEHR Director Dr. Markisha Smith. “We need to assure access to services for underserved communities without creating new harms or exacerbating existing harms.”

Developing these principles involved City staff from the Mayor’s office, Smart City PDX, Office for Community Technology, information security, legal and equity teams, and experts involved in privacy efforts at the City of Seattle and City of Oakland. After the first draft was ready last year, it took several months to get feedback from community members, technical advisory bodies and all bureaus, resulting in the draft resolution submitted to City Council.

“The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has a history of working across multiple City agencies and with our community to address Portland’s biggest, most complex challenges, from climate change to housing affordability,” said BPS Director Andrea Durbin. “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with our SCPDX partners to design a more equitable digital future.”

Next steps

Now that Portland City Council has approved the resolution, BPS and OEHR staff will work with other City of Portland bureaus to implement the principles. Staff will identify both short-term and long-term procedures needed for implementation. They will work to create and review policies needed to support practices aligned with the Privacy and Information Protection Principles. Implementation will also include determining necessary staff and budget, putting the principles in place as part of a Citywide data governance strategy for City operations. Ensuring community involvement in the development of these procedures and policies will be central to the work.

Visit: www.smartcitypdx.com/privacy-principles

Email: smartcitypdx@portlandoregon.gov

Media contact: Christine Llobregat, 503-823-7007

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