San Mateo County Measures Performance with Open Data

January 29, 2014 3:00 pm PST | Data Apps & Visualization, Data as a Service
Coyote Point Marina

Many government agencies seek ways to better set, measure, and meet their goals. One government, San Mateo, California, took a step further, launching a data-powered, public-facing GovStat dashboard, to publicly share progress with citizens.

“The dashboard has been very beneficial for our services. It’s a visually engaging tool that helps us to have conversations around how our Board allocated money and how things are going as far as meeting goals,” says Reyna Farrales, San Mateo Deputy County Manager.

Two examples of how San Mateo is using the dashboard for performance measurement come from the fire fleet and County Parks.

Reduce Fire Fleet Maintenance Costs

Justifying the funds to buy new service vehicles can sometimes be a challenge. Thanks to their performance measurement focus, the County was able to use data to make their case for the expense. 

Socrata GovStat Comparison - San Mateo fire Fleet Age vs Maintenance

Compiling data through the County dashboard revealed that fire fleet vehicles, on average, were past their useful lifespan. The maintenance costs were steadily growing. By presenting that information in easy-to-read graphs, the County was able to raise public and constituent support. They received funds to purchase new vehicles with the goal to save money by lowering maintenance costs.

Improve County Parks

When San Mateo re-established County Parks as a standalone department, one of their goals was to increase park service quality by improving existing parks and re-opening parks closed due to lack of funding. They used the dashboard to compare how much renovating each park would cost with how many visitors each one received on average. They were also able to compile data collected by park rangers into an “Average Service Level” statistic to help measure progress toward their goal of increasing park service quality.

Socrata GovStat Comparison - San Mateo Parks Cost vs Popularity

Comparing data led the Parks Department to identify the Coyote Point Marina as their first priority. While Coyote Point was one of the most expensive renovation projects, its heavy usage made it a clear choice. “[Our decision] was based on the value it brought to the community,” says Farrales. “Coyote Point, by far, is one of our most popular parks.”

On track to complete next month, the Coyote Point renovation project will include park improvements such as additional ADA ramp access points, 22 new slips that can accommodate boats up to 60-feet-long, additional birthing spaces, improved protection against wind and waves, and a new fuel dock.

Reyna Farrales

“When considering what projects to measure with GovStat, parks were a no-brainer. With the dashboard, we really want to get the community more involved. It’s important to build public support, and now we’ve got enough to keep the dashboard running and our parks open.”

Reyna Farrales, San Mateo Deputy County Manager

Interested in hearing more about how San Mateo is using open data for performance measurement? Register for our upcoming webinar, “Data in Action: How Leading Governments Measure Performance,” and hear from Reyna Farrales as well as other local government officials.

Want to know more about Socrata’s GovStat service? Click here.

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