Davenport’s Data Comes to Life
The city of Davenport, located on the banks of the Mississippi, in Iowa, launched performance.cityofdavenportiowa.com in summer 2016. We spoke to Mallory Merritt, Management Analyst with the city of Davenport, about the new site’s impact on city operations, citizens, and neighboring cities.
Socrata: How will the new site help Davenport’s residents?
Mallory Merritt: The city of Davenport tracks many different types of data. Data gets tracked for state reporting purposes, for internal controls, and so that the city team can make efficient allocation decisions. The types of data range from how many crimes are committed each month, amount of recycling (in tons), how many ash trees have been treated or removed, and even how quickly our public works team responds to potholes.
As part of the budget process, each division prepares a business plan containing three to 10 performance measures that each have a historical string of data tied to them. Prior to the launch of the community dashboard, our customers had to search through a 600-page budget document to locate this data. The community dashboard brings our performance measurement data to life, creates accountability, and provides an interactive tool where the customer can actually interact with the data at the level they desire.
Socrata: What’s your vision for this program?
Merritt: As our team started to think through how to group the data, we determined that it would be best to group the data into strategic outcome areas. The project team, including city administration, worked with the city council and the mayor to establish six key pillar areas. These pillars have already been integrated into so many other processes including budget preparation, but we want to continue integrating the pillars into our team culture and other outcome-driven areas and processes.
One of the pillars that we are excited about, “Vibrant region,” tracks more than city data. This pillar is for our community partners to share their data, goals and exciting programs. It currently contains metrics for a regional vision task-force, the school district, a local museum, and many other partners who make our region such a vibrant place to live.
Socrata: How do you hope your program influences neighboring communities?
Merritt: Our team often contacts our neighboring governments and communities to request their performance data so that we can evaluate our own performance. It is nice to be able to use your surrounding communities as a benchmark for success. As part of a region, we hope that our neighbor governments will utilize this tool to find data that can be useful to them.
Socrata: What advice do you have for other governments considering rolling out a program like yours?
Merritt: Be creative and innovative in your grouping of data. Davenport is also going through a redevelopment of the city website, and we are finding from our customers that they don’t view their government in terms of departments and divisions. They interact with their government based on what function they need or what information they are looking to find.