LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Los Angeles County officials have approved creation of an online database that will make municipal statistics and records available to the public for free.

The website would be a “one-stop shop” for information on budgets, crime stats, welfare and the like that could be used and redistributed without any legal, social or technological limitations, according to county officials.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Open Data Initiative, authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to create the one-stop-shop website data.lacounty.gov, which once completed will allow users to go directly to dashboards to search, view and download indexed information.

Currently, the public must search through hundreds of pages of files on different county websites in order to find information, according to Ridley-Thomas.

With information from 37 departments including the annual budget, crime statistics, elections data and geographic information systems, the website is expected to be a “historic shift” for transparency in county government, Ridley-Thomas said.

“Our vast trove of data and public records will be readily available in a user-friendly form for the first time,” he said. “Today’s Open Data Initiative will encourage innovation and it will make the county more transparent and accountable to the people it serves.”

A task force is expected to report to the board within 90 days on other data sets at the county’s disposal that could be made available in machine-readable format and added to the new open-data portal, the Associated Press reported.

Following similar moves by other jurisdictions, including the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, the data portal will make Los Angeles County the largest municipal government in the nation to make data easily accessible, Ridley-Thomas said.

Emily Shaw of the Sunlight Foundation told KNX 1070 NEWRADIO her group applauds the move, but hopes officials will listen to feedback from the public.

“We really support a lot of public engagement by governments to improve their targeting of their messaging, their accessibility and their presentation to the data-using audience,” said Shaw.

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