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  • The City of Syracuse (the “City”) collects and shares data about a range of services, including complaints about road conditions, tax payment history, code violations, public safety services, and more. The City uses this data and information to better deliver services. As more tools to collect data become available, the amount and range of data collected will increase as well. We know that protecting this data is important, and this privacy policy details how we collect, manage, use, and protect it. We work to find a balance between using data to provide services and protecting your privacy. The data we collect is not sold to third-parties and it is only released publicly after review in accordance with our open data policy, legal process, or as required by New York State’s Freedom of Information Law. We think you should know the types of data being collected about you. 

    This data privacy policy is written with the City’s mission, vision, and values in mind.

    Mission Syracuse will be a growing city that embraces diversity and creates opportunity for all

    Vision As a model of innovation and citizen engagement, the City of Syracuse will consistently deliver high quality customer experiences through proactive and efficient service

    Values Accountability, collaboration, constituent-focused, cultural competency, data-driven decisions, diversity, empathy and compassion, transparency

    A growing city needs to analyze data to make informed decisions. Data allows the city’s staff to innovate and engage the public. Being open about what data is collected and how it is used provides the transparency that a government should strive for as well as what a community should expect. Though access to data may increase efficiency, engaging in constituent-focused outreach and having empathy for those in the community may limit how much data to collect or analyze. The collection or interpretation of data can be biased and lead us to poor conclusions. Careful understanding of these processes is important to ensure we are living up to the mission, vision, and values of the City, while also respecting the community.

    Privacy Principles

    1. Your privacy is important - personally identifiable information will only be released when legally obligated. In such a case, a review is conducted by our Office of Corporation Counsel and department directors or commissioners that oversee the collection of that respective piece of information.

    2. We do not collect more data than we need - while there are an ever-growing number of ways to collect data, we consider how each piece of data will be used and work to ensure we only collect the data that helps us provide better services.

    3. We tell you how the data is used - where possible, we will tell you how data collected will be used and in certain cases will allow you to opt-out of data being collected about you.

    4. We are secure - your data is kept in ways that are secure and we constantly monitor and train employees about the potential ways data breaches can occur in an effort to avoid them in the future.

    5. We pursue data accuracy - maintaining large amounts of data presents multiple challenges, but we work to maintain accurate data and update the information when it is inaccurate.

    What We Collect

    Each department within the City of Syracuse collects large amounts of data. Some are provided directly to us, like permit applications. Other data we may collect during a passive interaction with one of our departments, like your image captured on a security or law enforcement camera. We try to collect only as much data as is needed to provide services. The table below provides some examples of the types of data collected:



    Personal Identifiable Information

    Name, address, phone number, email address

    Payment information

    Payment dates and amounts for taxes, water bills, parking violations, and code violations

    Digital images

    Pictures from a city-sponsored event or images/video from a stationary or body-worn police camera

    Utility use

    Consumption data about water usage

    Permitting information

    New construction or remodeling, right of way permits, or zoning appeals

    Service requests

    Potholes, blue bins, bulk trash

    Home ownership information

    Sales records

    “Smart City” technology

    Video and static imagery and sound recordings

    How Data Is Used

    Data collected about the public is used in a variety of ways within the city government. Many times it serves as a way to check records about prior payments or outstanding tax balances or parking violations. Being able to look up an individual and ensure he or she has paid taxes prior to receiving a permit ensures we are doing our due-diligence in a permitting process, for example.

    In many cases, this data can also be aggregated to better understand trends in the community. Analyzing where in the City the bulk of permits are filed, or which neighborhood reports the most potholes allows departments to make better decisions, and sometimes test new ways of doing work. In the cases where data is used in bulk, the City considers how to ensure data is accurate and understood before completing the analysis. Bulk data is typically aggregated based on location or date rather than individual, and personally identifiable information is removed as a part of this aggregation.

    How We Will Review Data Collection

    Especially in a world where sensors collect massive amounts of data about everything happening in a space, understanding the privacy implications of new technologies is critical. In the coming months, the City of Syracuse will formalize the policy for how it collects data from these technologies, as well as more traditional means. This policy will direct departments to review and publish what and how data is collected about individuals.