Edmonton Opens Doors Wide for Citizen Feedback
Why do governments create open data portals and make information available to the public? Among many reasons, they hope that the public will use the information to find ways to improve the quality of life in their community. With this lofty goal in mind, Edmonton, Canada recently made more government performance data available, and created a forum to discuss it, by launching “The Citizen Dashboard.”
This new online tool not only makes performance results available to citizens, but it gives them the opportunity to engage with the information, provide feedback and even analyze it to find solutions to existing problems. It’s this “finding solutions” piece that Edmonton really hopes catches on.
A Visionary Effort
“Edmonton has taken the first important step in connecting their citizens with the data they use on a daily basis to measure progress. Holding themselves accountable to clear, concise goals, and allowing the citizens to engage in their strategic process, will undoubtedly improve the quality of their data, their analysis and, most importantly, the services they deliver to citizens,” says Beth Blauer, Director of GovStat at Socrata and leader of a similar, successful initiative in Maryland.
“The Citizen Dashboard” came out of a collaboration between the City of Edmonton and open data platform software innovator Socrata, Inc. It was created using Socrata’s government performance platform, GovStat.
“We want to help people understand what it is that the city does and how quickly or not we’re responding to different needs,” says Ashley Casovan, Strategic Coordinator of Information Technology at the City of Edmonton. She describes GovStat as, “A great example of how we can use data to help support those services, to make it more accessible.”
Building on the City’s open data platform, the Citizen Dashboard uses GovStat to give citizens access to performance measures for a number of city services, as well as additional service information. According to a document from the City of Edmonton, “The tool reinforces the city’s commitment to openness and accountability.”
“We’re enticing people to be more engaged,” says Casovan.
Starts with Snowplows and Pot Holes
The Citizen Dashboard will start by providing data related to the city’s transportation master plan, The Way We Move, including how the city is performing on the following services:
• Snow and ice control on roadways
• Spring roadway clean up
• Filling potholes
• Transit ridership
• Transit security
• Disable Adult Transit Service (DATS) on-time performance
• Traffic injury rates
• Traffic collision rates
Edmonton plans to expand the Citizen Dashboard to include performance information about other municipal services that support the City’s 10-year strategic plan.
“One of the things we’re trying to achieve is connecting everything we’re doing and data is the foundation,” says Casovan. She describes the Citizen Dashboard as the catalyst for conversations with citizens.
Written by Bridget Quigg, Socrata, Inc.