Data-Smart City Solutions


By Data-Smart City Solutions

This guide highlights resources to help answer questions that a new Chief Data Officer or other government data leader might have about the best way to move toward a data-driven enterprise. This guide will evolve over time; please email us with questions you would like answered or resources to add to this list.

Before You Start

How do you evaluate your city’s readiness for data-driven government?

The University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy has developed a data maturity framework for both data/tech and organizational readiness to help an organization assess its readiness for a data-driven project.

What are effective organizational models for data offices?

Jane Wiseman’s paper, “Lessons from Leading CDOs: A Framework for Better Civic Analytics,” discusses lessons learned from pioneering CDOs. An additional resource published with the paper are profiles of seven city data offices.

How can you inventory the data resources your city already has?

Johns Hopkins’ Center for Government Excellence has published a Data Inventory Guide with guidance on how to conduct an inventory. San Francisco’s DataSF has also released Data Inventory Guidance with detailed information about their inventory process. 

What leading cities can you look to for advice?

Our list of Data Leadership at the Executive Level includes information about the cities and states with current data offices. We also have profiles of the data organizations of seven cities who are members of the Civic Analytics Network.  

How can you create a strategic data plan?

Laura Adler’s overview of city data planning efforts highlights leading examples and summarizes best practices for planning. 




Opening Data

How do you use metadata?

Johns Hopkins’ Center for Government Excellence has produced an Open Data Metadata Guide with helpful information about how to provide good metadata. San Francisco’s DataSF has shared their Metadata Standard, which includes an inventory of federal, state, and local metadata standards and research on metadata best practices. 

How do you open data?

Johns Hopkins’ Center for Government Excellence has published an Open Data Getting Started Guide to help cities start opening data. The Sunlight Foundation has guidelines on formulating an open data policy as well as a site to browse all existing open data policies and an Open Data Policy Wizard that creates a sample policy to work from.  

How do you negotiate data sharing?

The National Neighborhood Indicators Project has a guide to local data sharing, which includes sample data sharing agreements. The Sunlight Foundation has a post on “Sharing sensitive data within government,” which includes many helpful links.

How do you protect privacy?

The City of Seattle’s Privacy Initiative, one of the most comprehensive municipal efforts in this area, has published its Privacy Policy and a presentation on the program. In addition, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard published an Open Data Privacy Playbook with recommendations and case studies. Finally, San Francisco’s DataSF published an Open Data Release Toolkit, which includes steps for assessing the risk and value of releasing a sensitive dataset.

How can you engage residents in data efforts?

The Sunlight Foundation’s Tactical Data Engagement guide provides a framework for cities to incorporate community participation in outcome-driven open data efforts. Living Cities’ Public Engagement Roadmap shares a toolkit, guide, and case studies from their City Accelerator program. Johns Hopkins’ Center for Government Excellence has published a Community Engagement Playbook with advice on elevating community engagement work. Our Civic Engagement in Focus guide includes additional helpful news, resources, and case studies.

How can you foster external use of open data?

Cambridge, MA began requiring departments to include problem statements along with every open data release, developing a Civic Innovation Challenge Inventory. NYU’s GovLab has a Data Collaboratives project, which inventories and provides guides for public-private collaboration with data. Code for America Brigades often work with cities' data. The Urban Institute's National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership is a network of local data intermediaries in many U.S. cities. 




Getting Started with Analytics

How do you create a vision for analytics in your city?

Jane Wiseman’s paper, “Analytics Excellence Roadmap: A Four-Stage Maturity Model for Data-Driven Government,” presents a model for how a city can mature in its data use. Reviewing the highest-maturity stages can provide inspiration for where a city will go in its capabilities.

How do you define a service model for analytics in your city?

Jane Wiseman’s paper, “Lessons from Leading CDOs: A Framework for Better Civic Analytics,” includes discussions of different ways that data teams engage with departments. New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) has also published a Process Map of the way they work with departments.

How do you talk to city departments about analytics services?

New Orleans developed an analytics typology and presentation to help engage departments in data. Sean Thornton’s “Why Civic Analytics” is a helpful introductory explanation to use. NYC’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) published a two-page overview of their work that they share with departments.

What kinds of operational questions can you answer with data?

Our Catalog of Civic Data Use Cases highlights the broad range of questions that cities might answer with data across policy areas. NYC’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) has a guide to their work that includes an overview of categories of analytics projects.  

How do you analyze if a use case idea is a good fit for an analytics solution?

The University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy has developed a project scoping guide and accompanying worksheet to help refine and scope a data project.

How do you staff an analytics team?

Jane Wiseman’s paper, “Lessons from Leading CDOs: A Framework for Better Civic Analytics,” includes discussion of team roles and composition based on a review of leading data teams.

How can you train city staff in data skills?

San Francisco’s SF Data Academy is a leading example of training city staff in data use; their course materials are available on the individual class pages. Datapolitan offers analytics classes for NYC employees; the materials are on Github.  


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