Rubí: Facilitating Citizen Participation
Rubí is a city that has outdone itself. In the middle of the twentieth century it only had 10,000 inhabitants. Today, that number exceeds 75,000. Rubí is just 23 kilometers from Barcelona and is a strategic point between the road network and its growing industry.
Over time, the City of Vallès Occidental has been specializing in chemical and pharmaceutical products, metals, self-propulsion, textiles, and more. This specialization has led to a considerable increase in services to meet the needs of the population.
Some of the most emblematic buildings of the city are 'Rubí Desenvolupament'; the 'Masia de Can Serra', where the Management Service Office is located; the Teatre Municipal Hall; Castell Ecomuseu Urbà, a permanent exhibition of the history of the city; Torre Bassas, modernist building where the youth equipment is kept; The Celler, which became a new cultural space in 2014; the Ateneu, for social entities; or the Civic Center of Pinar The Cruïlla, among others.
Data Available to All
The opendata.rubi.cat portal is a tool for achieving an open government, closer, more transparent, and with greater communication with its citizenship. It officially launched in November 2014.
The Rubí council prioritizes making public data available to all citizens. Data is published with a double objective: improve transparency and facilitate and generate collective knowledge.
The Lady Mayor of Rubí, Carme García Lores, during the presentation of opendata.rubi.cat, highlighted the portal incorporates an interactive platform. "It is not inert data,” she says. “People can search and create graphs. The citizens can use data to satisfy their curiosity, make analyzes, studies, or create economic activity by designing applications that can be made available to other citizens."
"We started by looking at the possibilities of technological solutions that we had at our disposal. We chose Socrata for the usability of its interface, but mostly because it empowers citizens through the creation of knowledge with open databases,” explains Michael Donaldson, Chief Coordinator of the City of Rubí. "Another important point is that official data will mix with the interpretations of the users, which makes the information travel horizontally.”
After the local government decided to work with Socrata, it was time to begin the conceptualization of the opendata.rubi.cat portal. "And that was a true challenge because it was very clear that focus should be in the public," Donaldson adds. That vision was followed by four months of hard work to turn it into a reality.
They started with 20 datasets varying from data related to the elections and the population or the actions of the local police, to the demographics of the staff of the City and the salaries of politicians and municipal workers.
The Chief Coordinator of the City argues the priority, at all times, is to improve the democratic quality of the city council and enhance the conversation with their citizens. "The political momentum came from the government and the opposition, through the Committee on Transparency and Good Governance."
Such was its success that in the first three months the Rubí Open Data portal received almost 120,000 visitors. They have already expanded the datasets with more maps (noise, bus routes, recreational areas, etc.) and the initial estimates of expenditure and revenue, with historical data from 2009 to 2015. They are now working to include data on Categories such as 'Municipal Finances', 'Environment' and 'City'.
The most searched datasets during the first months of the Rubí Open Data portal have been the tables of remuneration, the economic activities of the municipality, the population of the City, and the elections.
What About the Future?
On the one hand, Rubí has taken on the challenge of maintaining the portal and regularly feed it with new data sets. On the other hand, they want to promote instruments and channels of empowerment for the citizenship. In this regard, the design of conferences and workshops to present the full potential of 'open data' is underway.
"In five years, we would like the portal to be a spearhead to maintain a different dialogue between the government and its citizens. In addition, we would like to build the public's knowledge of municipal affairs and improve the management of Rubí's public resources," concludes the Chief Coordinator.
Rubí still has a long way to go in open data. But they are well on their way.