Innovation Committee Tasked With Making City’s Data More Accessible
By Susan Schrock
Posted on April 10, 2018, April 10, 2018


After adopting an open data policy last October, the City of Arlington established a Data Governance and Innovation Team tasked with increasing access to valuable data by both city employees and the community.

This cross-departmental team meets monthly to review the data generated by individual departments, ranging from the most common destinations requested by the City's Handitran passengers to what kinds of code violations spike based on the season. The Data Governance and Innovation Team is currently determining how to make certain types of data, such as road closures or the locations of all neighborhood amenities, more readily available to the public through the searchable Open Data portal as a download file, an interactive web app or both.

"The City is working to make its data more accessible and interesting to Arlington residents. We are creating maps and charts that will help people decide what public art to check out over the weekend and which restaurants have been given a clean bill of health," Acting Deputy City Manager Jennifer Wichmann said. "Putting data where it's useful is one of our main goals as we increase our data transparency and innovation."

By making data more consumable, the City aims to better connect with its residents, create efficiencies for departments and spur collaboration with the private sector, such as partnering with a web app developer who could create an interesting or useful interactive tool for customers or the community.

The Data Governance and Innovation Committee, which recently completed an assessment of Handitran data, will soon begin reviewing Parks and Recreation and Code Compliance data to look for opportunities to improve information access in those areas, said Elaine Dennehy, Research & Analytics Planning Manager.

Other planned projects include working with students in the Library's Girls Who Code program to develop an interactive app related to pet licenses as well as building an interactive map that would allow residents and visitors to pull up information on their phones about nearby parks, public art, community programming and other recreation and cultural amenities.

Arlington is one of nearly 100 cities partnering with the What Works Cities initiative, which aims to improve the effectiveness of local governments by enhancing their use of data to help determine priorities, allocate resources and tackle challenges facing the community and to increase public transparency.

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