Santa Rosa, California Surfaces Public Data on Homelessness

For years, data for the city of Santa Rosa, California, was locked away in a mainframe, available only to city leaders and department heads if they requested reports. Chief Information Officer Eric McHenry, along with his team, is leading Santa Rosa’s digital government initiative, with the goal of making all the city’s valuable data available to both the city’s government and its residents.

“The challenge was for us was to pull data on our operations to one place, and make it usable for city staff,” says McHenry. “That’s where we realized we needed a platform that could not only pull the data into one place, but then could put some visualizations on top of it that our executive staff, our city council, our mid- and lower-level managers, and the public can use.”

Santa Rosa is committed to transparency. Residents and businesses have sometimes found the permitting process opaque so, last year, the city released data describing the flow of permits through agencies. Plus, the city now has goals related to monthly permits issued, and publishes data daily on their progress.

Permits aren’t the only place Santa Rosa puts its progress on display. The city also tracks its efforts around homelessness, infrastructure initiatives, affordable housing, and other key local issues.

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