By Data-Smart City Solutions • May 5, 2017

Each week we will bring you a summary of what happened this week on our site, on Twitter, and in the wider world of civic data. Suggest stories on Twitter with #ThisWeekInData.

Here on Data-Smart, Pittsburgh Data Fellow Robert Burack outlined lessons learned from the city’s efforts to gather feedback and share information on Burgh’s Eye View, a recently-launched open data application. Pittsburgh’s Analytics & Strategy Team visited 26 community meetings in early 2017, offering short presentations on how residents might use the application and soliciting suggestions for improvement. From this experience, the city gained insights into how to transform city analysts into user advocates and take iterative action based on resident feedback.

GCN profiled an interactive mapping application released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that displays neighborhood-level data on chronic diseases for the 500 largest cities in the country. The tool is part of the CDC’s 500 Cities initiative, which provides small-area estimates of 27 chronic disease measures. The CDC hopes that public health professionals, policymakers, and researchers will use the application to address and target interventions to areas where they are most needed.  

Also on Data-Smart, Chris Bousquet wrote about potential applications for chatbots to deliver government services. Because of their ability to pull instantaneously from databases and relay information quickly, chatbots can address simple service requests in areas like 311 and the Department of Motor Vehicles, freeing up municipal employees to handle more complicated problems.

Fast Company highlighted a map created by the city of Los Angeles and design studio Use All Five that can tell commuters how many pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers were killed on their route. The map is intended to humanize the problem of traffic safety and increase its salience for residents. It is a part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025.

Stephen Goldsmith featured Louisville’s performance management system LouieStat, which includes a coordinated strategic planning process and an operational framework for measuring service delivery. Thanks to this two-tiered system, city operations flow from strategic goals, allowing the city to deliver on its most important priorities. Mayor Greg Fischer developed a six-year plan with 21 city goals and asked each agency to develop its own goals and plans to achieve them. Read more on Data-Smart.

StateScoop examined a budget portal released by the City of Boston that converts the city’s three-volume, 860-page budget into a user-friendly website. Developed through a partnership between the budget office and Department of Innovation and Technology, the website uses charts, graphs, maps, and written narrative in an effort to promote transparency and accessibility.

The New York Times analyzed the use of algorithms to assist in judicial decision-making. In 2013, a Wisconsin man Eric L. Loomis was sent to prison based in part on the recommendations of an algorithm called Compas. The software produces risk scores for the likelihood of defendants committing another crime, yet its algorithm remains a proprietary secret, raising questions of due process.

Also on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI), Deloitte released a report on the implications of AI on the future of government. The report estimates that AI will not lead to large government job losses, but will rather change the nature of many jobs. AI-based applications could reduce backlogs, cut costs, overcome resource constraints, free workers from mundane tasks, improve the accuracy of projections, inject intelligence into scores of processes and systems, and handle many other tasks humans can’t easily do on their own.

We profiled a number of programs in the Top 25 of Harvard’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition that have leveraged the power of data and analytics to better serve residents. Projects include an application that helps identify North Atlantic right whales to promote conservation efforts, an NYPD program that puts smartphones with police data in the hands of officers, and a regulatory roadmap in the State of Washington that helps businesses understand regulatory requirements.