Naperville Supports a Strong Economy and Citizen Engagement with Data Portal Launch

July 20, 2017 9:57 am PST | Data as a Service
naperville fountain

This summer, Naperville, Illinois, launched a new open data portal: Open Data Naperville. The portal provides the 150,000 residents of the Chicago-area suburb with data on building permits, public safety incidents, debt service, and more, as well as providing information on the city’s strategic goals and budget. The launch comes nearly a year after Naperville was selected to join the What Works Cities initiative, which helps cities implement data-driven operations. Currently, the Socrata-powered site has almost 30 datasets, and the city aims to release more as they become available.

 

naperville open data portal

 

“We’re excited to have this forum to better explain to citizens the city’s long-term vision behind our initiatives, with explanations and supporting data to offer greater context than ever before,” Deputy City Manager Marcie Schatz commented in the city’s press release.

The site’s launch fits the city’s mission: “Naperville is of the mindset that ‘It’s not our data; it’s the people’s data,’” says Schatz.

 

Improving Service for Residents and Businesses

Naperville is the fifth largest city in Illinois, and is eager to support local commerce. The portal offers valuable resources, such as background on Naperville’s economic landscape and data on city services, for existing and aspiring retailers and businesses. “We hope to make it easier for individuals to find information about starting their own business by releasing permit and other data in an easy-to-use structure,” says Program Manager Russell Rogers.

 

naperville citizen survey

Non-business owners will benefit from the site as well. Pages on the city’s financial stability, economy, public safety, and city performance walk citizens through precisely how Naperville is doing, using text, visuals, and charts together to paint a rich picture of the city’s outlook and goals. “We hope our citizens who delve into our performance management perspectives pages will be able to better understand and put into context how the city operates, what challenges we are facing, and how city leaders make decisions,” says Schatz.

 

Driving Efficiency & Engagement

By providing clear, real-time data online that is easy to use and analyze, Naperville hopes to reduce the number of requests for permit data, potentially saving the city money. Naperville also believes the machine-readable data on the site will encourage the technology community to develop apps that will benefit the community. The Chicago Tribune reports that code groups are eager to host hack nights.

Already, launching the site has helped boost productivity internally. “The process of going through a data inventory assists in employees realizing the value of data and automation in an effort to create efficiencies to their processes,” says Rogers. So, what’s next for Naperville’s data journey? Along with releasing additional datasets to the public, the city also sees an opportunity to drive internal efficiencies and productivity. “We are also looking to leverage the private viewing of datasets internally for reporting and the creation of dashboards for our internal employees,” says Schatz.

Learn more about Socrata’s solutions for open data and citizen engagement.


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