Infrastructure Data Goes Digital in Topeka

Sherry Schoonover is making data on Topeka’s projects, plans, and funds available online. As the city’s Deputy Director of IT and Chief Security Officer (CSO), she and her team have moved the city’s financial and capital projects data, plus more, in to an API-enabled, easily-visualized format with Socrata.

“The initial pilot was very eye-opening,” says Schoonover. She and her team started by taking the approved, 200-page budget and moving it to a digital format. 

“The first person to see it was our city manager and, at that time, his statement was, ‘Wow, I have never seen anything like this,’” says Schoonover.

Next, she and her team put all the city’s capital projects into a Capital Projects Portal. They made some discoveries about data quality and accessibility. “Making this data public forced us into making a single data storage for all of the capital improvement projects,” says Schoonover.

Schoonover believes that making data available in this way is “service-oriented,” so that both staff and citizens can get more out of it and be more involved. She says they are “tying it together for better decision-making and transparency.”

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