Each week we will bring you a summary of what happened this week on our site, on Twitter, and in the wider world of municipal data. Suggest stories on Twitter with #ThisWeekInData.
WBUR’s David Scharfenberg wrote about researchers using CRM data to map the condition of Boston in “Big Data Comes to Boston’s Neighborhoods.” Calls in to the city reveal both repair needs and civic engagement on a neighborhood level.
Bill Schrier, former CTO of Seattle, declared “Apps Contests are Stupid,” noting the problems with data standardization, sustainability, and monetization of apps created in apps contests or hackathons. The Atlantic Cities’ Emily Badger wrote a compelling response, saying that some problems require local apps and that hackathons are about more than their products.
On Twitter, a conversation emerged about David Sasaki’s op-ed in Next City, “Quantifying Our Cities, Ourselves.” Sasaki wrote that “smart city” companies often neglect citizen empowerment in their quest for tech-driven cities, as numbers alone don’t tell the story of a community’s health: “A quality education can’t be wholly reflected in standardized test results, just as the quality of healthcare at a hospital can’t be fully assessed using readmission and mortality rates. Still, these numbers — if collected and reported accurately — serve as important proxies that empower citizens to make better decisions and to ensure that public services meet the needs of those they are meant to serve.”
New from our team
Joseph Marks interviewed our director, Stephen Goldsmith, on NextGov, about this project. Goldsmith described our goal as “act[ing] as a catalyst for the use of big data, data analytics and predictive analytics to change the way government operates by connecting experiments that are going on in a relatively isolated way now to the market of public leaders across the country.”
Guest blogger Rachel Burstein examined the civic innovation ecosystem, writing that it “can only flourish and grow if it also includes the resident, the community group, the non-tech focused governmental worker, the local business leader and others as equal partners, consulted not as a formality, but because these other groups have something to contribute.”
In the second piece in our performance measurement series, Will Cook wrote about the history of PerformanceStat. In the next installments, he will look at cases of cities that are connecting Stat programs with civic engagement.