St. Petersburg Puts City Services on Interactive Map
“Florida’s Sunshine City” just made a huge leap forward in connecting city services to its nearly 260,000 residents. That’s because the Mayor’s Action Center in St. Petersburg, Florida just launched Citizen Connect, a visualization tool that maps and tracks all reported 311 requests from their SeeClickFix service to keep the city accountable and ensure issues are swiftly resolved.
As the first step within the city’s larger performance management program, Citizen Connect uses data to put all citizen-reported 311 requests on the map — literally. The site shows the kind of issue that has been reported and where the issue is occurring, e.g. a tree limb is blocking a street. This system enables city departments to quickly identify issues that need attention and then track them until they are resolved.
Local residents can sign up for email alerts to see the city’s response to their issue or what is happening around their house. Business owners, parents, and neighborhood associations can sign up to see what 311 requests or codes violations are happening in a certain radius around their shops, homes, or schools.
A Strong Start
StPeteStat Analyst with the city of St. Petersburg, Debbie Volk, has led the development and launch of Citizen Connect and notes that while still relatively new, it’s already reached more than 2,000 hits in one month and is advancing the city’s performance management. “This tool has been really great at visualizing just the types of activities going on,” she says. “So the crews know they’re doing the work, the managers know they’re doing the work, and what hasn’t been done is visualized on display, so it’s really teaching them to use that information.”
Since joining the city four months ago, Volk has worked closely with participating departments to help teams and crews understand the data and how to use it to better respond to citizen service requests. For example, she worked with the water resources department to successfully embed a filtered map on their site in just one day. As a result, viewers can immediately see solely water resources issues. “It’s really helping citizens to see the value of what we’re doing and why we’re doing what we’re doing,” says Volk.
The tool also supports city department staff and directors with codes enforcements, water resources, stormwater and traffic operations, and parks. For example, Volk uses the raw numbers on issues opened versus issues resolved, by department, to create specific visualizations for managers. These visualizations then allow departments to compare their open versus closed rates with other departments. These comparison have encouraged clean up of outstanding open tickets.
“This tool is a great way to show how powerful data can be by demonstrating things so simply and quickly.” —Debbie Volk, Analyst
Looking ahead, the city plans to expand the tool to include code violations and crime data, as well as launch two new data sites that will provide a more holistic picture of performance management within the city. As Volk points out, leveraging data for insights is key to boosting transparency for citizens and helping all departments continue to improve.
“This tool is a great way to show how powerful data can be by demonstrating things so simply and quickly. Also, we can visualize so much without it being overwhelming,” says Volk.
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