Rancho Cucamonga Launches Public Safety Dashboard

June 15, 2015 7:00 am PDT | Effective Governing, Open Data

Until recently, the City of Rancho Cucamonga produced an annual, hard-copy statistical report to share information about the performance of City operations.

“We put so much effort into creating that document,” says Donna Finch, “then it sat on a shelf and was not fully utilized the way we envisioned it to be.”

The printed report was an initial step in meeting City Manager John Gillison’s objective to make more information available to citizens about what the City is doing and how well it is doing it. With the report in place, Gillison wanted a better way to provide meaningful data to the public and the City Council, and to publicly track the City’s progress toward meeting its performance goals.

A Flexible, Dynamic Dashboard

The search for a solution led to Socrata’s Open Performance tool (formerly Govstat), which powers a Public Safety Performance Dashboard that the City of Rancho Cucamonga launched in April. The dashboard replaces occasionally updated PDFs with dynamically updated statistics and visualizations, and provides a narrative to help users understand the City’s public safety initiatives.

The current dashboard features interactive data, charts, and maps about police and fire department services, such as response times, crime reduction, emergency preparedness, and fire inspections. “We started with our public safety departments to get our feet wet with a pilot project and see how the dashboard works before moving on to include all city departments,” Finch says.

The City plans to add data from its remaining departments by early 2016 and will continue to organize the dashboard by categories of service, such as community development, health, sustainability, and cultural services.

Finch, a Management Analyst I and the City’s project lead, is happy to leave the world of PDF statistical documents behind, but she appreciates that Open Performance allows the flexibility to create and print customized reports.

“The dashboard is a much more efficient, useful tool than we had before,” she says. “Users can drill down into specific datasets and make their own hard-copy reports, if they like.”

The City gradually will incorporate more metrics and goals into the dashboard, which will automatically calculate and report progress.

“The dashboard is a way to hold ourselves accountable by tracking progress on our goals, instead of just putting the goals out there but never really monitoring whether we’re achieving them,” Finch says.

Working Together with Contributors and Departments

Rancho Cucamonga, a city of about 170,000 located 40 miles east of Los Angeles, contracts with San Bernardino County for police services. The project team sat in on meetings with San Bernardino County officials to help them understand the Open Performance platform, the City’s goals, and how the dashboard will bridge the information gap with citizens and provide a space to tell a positive story about their efforts to make their community a safer place to live and work.

From the start, the Rancho Cucamonga team achieved buy-in from a broad coalition of contributors who helped identify, groom, and publish data and narrative, says Chris Rieth, Project Manager for Open Performance.

Finch says getting buy-in from the City’s department leaders was an “easy sell” because the directive for open, accountable government came from the City Manager’s office. “He is passionate about using technology to improve our transparency and enhance communication with our community about what we’re doing.”

“I think we’re one of the first mid-sized cities in our area to do this type of innovative sharing of data,” she says. “The project turned out great and we’re looking forward to expanding the dashboard city-wide in 2016.”

 

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