City of Edmonton Wins Silver for Citizen Dashboard
By Bridget Quigg
Congratulations to the City of Edmonton! Its “Citizen Dashboard” recently won a silver 2014 Public Sector Leadership Award from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) / Deloitte. The dashboard is a dynamically populated, attractive, user-friendly website that highlights City goals in a number of areas and uses open data to report on progress against those goals in real time.
At a gala in Toronto, Aileen Giesbrecht, Director of the Office of Strategic Services for Financial Services and Utilities in Edmonton, accepted the award, saying. “This award is recognition from our municipal-administrator colleagues across Canada that we are at the forefront of the open-data movement.”
With the award, IPAC seeks to recognize organizations that have “demonstrated outstanding leadership by taking bold steps to improve Canada, through advancements in public policy and management.”
Andrew Anderson, a Senior Transportation Engineer for Edmonton, was also at the gala and had the following to say, “The judges said that what really resonated for them was the way the Citizen Dashboard allows government to connect directly with citizens. They were impressed with the way the tool was used to build public trust and accountability, by providing details on a broad range of services in an accessible way.”
With a more general comment on public administration today, Anderson adds, “As all governments are under more and more pressure to find and realize efficiencies, the Citizen Dashboard was recognized as a cost effective and transferable platform for sharing performance information in the public service.”
How the Dashboard Works
Edmonton’s Citizen Dashboard innovates in a number of ways on traditional communications with the public. It uses Socrata’s GovStat platform to provide performance information about municipal services that support Edmonton City strategic plan: The Way Ahead.
The data that feeds the dashboard comes from the City’s open data portal. The portal holds a variety of useful information for citizens, such as wifi locations in the city and election results. But, the “Citizen Dashboard” focuses on municipal services data, including progress against a goal like having fire response vehicles respond within seven minutes of a call 90 percent of the time. It is these very specific, public goals, and the sharing of data about them, that set Edmonton apart.
A Tremendous Team Effort
We caught up with Socrata Project Manager Meredith Slota who has worked with Edmonton on setting up its “Citizen Dashboard” using GovStat.
Slota says, “The Edmonton team has taken its ‘The Way Ahead’ strategic plan and opened it up. They are being completely transparent. Citizens can go directly to the dashboard, map it to the strategic plan, and get direct access to the city departments involved with each topic. Edmonton is not just surfacing their goals, they’re offering citizens a way to stay in contact with city organizations.”
Slota is impressed with the Edmonton team’s attitude about the project, saying, “Edmonton’s team is so dedicated to doing this right. GovStat is an enabler. It is not going to do it for you but it enables you to do it. Their success is in their hands.”
The success is apparent to Brian Latte, Branch Manager of Transportation Planning in the Department of Transportation Services, who has found that citizen appreciate the transparency. He says, “When we set up the interactive neighbourhood snow clearing map, there was a lot of positive feedback that this was a great way to see how we are providing snow clearing services. Now we have the tools to report how we are doing as the situation changes, to show that we are working hard to meet our performance targets, and to show how our crew schedules impact individual citizens.”
And, the benefits of the dashboard go beyond informing citizens, says Todd Burge, Branch Manager of Financial Services and Chair of Transforming Edmonton Committee (TEC), “One of the successes of the Citizen Dashboard has been the collaborative approach by departments throughout the City,” says Burge.
Canadian Innovation Abounds
Anderson also mentioned how impressed he was with some of the other programs recognized by IPAC, saying, “The Citizen Dashboard was honored among a number of really fascinating and important projects in the Canadian public service – from a project to produce aboriginal language curriculum materials for a rural school district to a health care technology accelerator program that has seen significant improvements in public health outcomes in Ontario.”
If you’d like to learn more about Edmonton’s Citizen Dashboard program, check out our case study “Edmonton Reports Directly and Openly to Its Citizens.”
More blogs on Edmonton’s open data programs: