Mayor Andy Berke: Engaging Your Community In Open Data

October 23, 2014 8:51 am PST | Data as a Service

For Chattanooga, “open data is truly a value of our government,” said the City’s Mayor Andy Berke to kick off Day 2 of the Socrata Customer Summit.

The Mayor reported his city has taken its open data, performance metrics, and zero-based budgeting to determine not just its successes, but also “when it isn’t doing that it needs to, what policies are missing, what it is not doing well.”

“Most importantly,” Mayor Berke says “We are setting and tracking goals, not just so that we know how we, as the government, is doing, but so that the community can hold us accountable.”

It is critical to set bold goals for Chattanooga, Berke told the Summit’s 200 attendees. “Governor O’Malley once told me, ‘In order to get people to buy-in, we have to make ourselves vulnerable.’ So, by setting lofty goals for our city, we are helping people understand that we are serious about improving Chattanooga and that we need community help to accomplish those ends.”

Uniquely, the centerpiece of Chattanooga’s open data movement and innovation sector is its city library, which was intentionally selected because the library is such a public and accessible place. The Chattanooga Public Library, which has been recognized as the “library of the future,” hosts the city’s open data portal, as well as having dedicated, physical maker space.

Another way Chattanooga is engaging its community is through what it calls CUT Groups, which are civic user testing groups charged with ensuring that applications developed on top of the government’s open data has purpose and meaning for its constituents.

“Open data and technology can really improve people’s lives,” says Berke, “Especially when we have those same people bringing innovation and creativity to the process. That’s our best opportunity to be truly successful.”

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