The Short Path to Data-Driven Government

October 11, 2013 3:00 pm PDT | Data Rockstars, Effective Governing

When the City of Burlington, Vt. recently announced its entry into the open data community, Mayor Miro Weinberger summed up the value of open data, saying, “Organizations that really understand their data, that are analytical, are far better able to allocate resources and make smart decisions.”

We at Socrata agree wholeheartedly with Mayor Weinberger. To that end, we currently offer the most efficient, streamlined, and cost-effective system for putting public data to work for government. We call the system GovStat, and we recently made some updates to it.

Why GovStat?

Imagine an organization where every person is involved in measuring and tracking performance and data is available and updated across all departments in real time. And, the public is regularly updated on progress against goals and encouraged to take part.

This is GovStat, Socrata’s solution to goal setting and tracking. GovStat organizes data, allows you to create easy-to-understand data visualizations, and puts fact-based decision making at your fingertips. 

We designed GovStat to help organizations set specific, measurable goals, like those set by Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland, when when he began Maryland’s groundbreaking StateStat program in 2006.

GovStat enforces a strict standard for goal setting, requiring goals to be highly specific, attached to metrics, shared, and driven by deadlines. That last part is especially important. As Beth Blauer, former Director of StateStat, emphasizes, “Every goal must have a deadline to work against. People work better this way and outcomes improve when there is a deadline, especially when that deadline is shared.”

With our latest version of GovStat, goal setting is simpler and can be done with more flexibility than ever.

How GovStat Helps

GovStat provides a framework and offers features that help any organization improve goal setting and outcomes. The following list of features will help you better understand how GovStat can help your organization.

  • Promotes collaboration. The GovStat dashboard is the hub of your organization’s goals. It allows users to create goals, track progress, and measure success using real-time data – and share those dashboards internally.
This is the dashboard page, the headquarters of all your organization’s goals. Each goal can be accessed and edited from here.
This is the dashboard page, the headquarters of all your organization’s goals. Each goal can be accessed and edited from here.
  • Gathers data together and makes it easy to use. With GovStat, data shared by any department is hosted in the cloud. It is available to everyone in the organization and updated in real-time. This saves time and money previously wasted requesting data, waiting for it to be made available, then getting it into a usable format.
  • Helps you paint a beautiful, real-time picture. In GovStat, reports are created with a drag-and-drop interface so you can customize your layout, mixing text, charts, and maps together to tell a story. For example, in a matter of minutes you could create a picture of your city’s daily bus transit challenges by simply pulling together a map of on-time bus arrivals during commute hours, a pie chart of costs related to late buses, and add text to explain the situation. And, all the data updates automatically so everyone who views your report is getting the most current information possible.
Cook County in Illinois uses GovStat to publicly track budget status. Community members can follow along and watch as expenditure data is updated. Note the December 2013 target deadline.
Cook County in Illinois uses GovStat to publicly track budget status. Community members can follow along and watch as expenditure data is updated. Note the December 2013 target deadline.
  • Available immediately. GovStat requires no infrastructure or IT support. It’s all web-based. Your organization can begin using these features immediately. This easy-to-start, low-maintenance program is supported by Socrata, which means your IT staff is free to work on other issues.
  • Engages citizens in performance-improving programs. GovStat’s public dashboards provide a window into your organization, allowing the world to see the impact of the work you do every day – in near-real time. Once the data is entered, citizens see those results. Citizens can offer feedback and become partners in innovation. Plus, usage analytics offers insight into how users interact with data. 
An example of a public-facing “Citizen Dashboard” pioneered by the City of Edmonton for their “The Way We Move” initiative.
An example of a public-facing “Citizen Dashboard” pioneered by the City of Edmonton for their “The Way We Move” initiative.

 

San Mateo County trusts GovStat as part of the Shared Vision 2025 program. Each tile above (interactive on San Mateo’s website) represents a specific Measure A initiative, which was designed to increase funding for Shared Vision 2025. Members of the community can track progress step by step with the County.
San Mateo County trusts GovStat as part of the Shared Vision 2025 program. Each tile above (interactive on San Mateo’s website) represents a specific Measure A initiative, which was designed to increase funding for Shared Vision 2025. Members of the community can track progress step by step with the County.

GovStat is the result of analyzing and applying best practices from programs as far back as New York City’s CompStat and, more recently, Maryland’s StateStat program. When you move data into the cloud, make it accessible to everyone, and empower people to use it, you move closer to reaching your goals.


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