"How do you feel about data and do you feel that it's valuable for both local cities and municipalities to adopt open data policies like NYC?"
Open data policies are extremely important and beneficial for both local cities and municipalities, and should be encouraged and supported; however, opening the data is really just the first step towards empowering both public and private stakeholders. The key is not only to make more data available, but to make it easily accessible as well.
There is already a wealth of information out there at county and municipality levels that could be providing some valuable insights to those looking to make positive changes in their communities; however, it is incredibly time-consuming to gather for analysis. It is distributed in hundreds of different formats (if it is even distributed at all) and is often buried throughout thousands of obscure sources and databases. This inaccessibility means that only those with years of training in data collection and analysis will be able to find it, let alone put it to good use.
Even sources such as the Census Bureau's American Fact Finder, which was developed for easy navigation of census data, are incredibly difficult and time-consuming to utilize.
I fully support the idea of opening data up and encouraging consistent data reporting at local city and municipality levels. Opening the data will mean that more entrepreneurs like 360-Public.com, who developed free web tools that makes open community data easier to access and analyze, will start to emerge and (hopefully) empower local municipality leaders / decision-makers, as well as the general public, to become more engaged and improve the quality of life in their communities.
We can't stop there though. We have to remember that data is only as good as the insights it provides, and unless we make sure it is distributed in a format that is both easily accessible and practical, there isn't much chance of it being put to good use.