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, Jane Wiseman and Stephen Goldsmith developed a list of ten ways that the public sector can use data to improve the efficiency of its operations. Drawn from the 2,000 recommendations hosted on the Ash Center’s Operational Excellence in Government project (OpEx)—a resource seeking to share ideas for improving performance across many government functions—these ideas are applicable across a wide range of municipalities. Examples include using data and analytics to enable more efficient, life-saving 911 responses; deploying smarter water management systems with sensors and analytics to reduce leaks and water main breaks; and analyzing financial data to identify underreporting and fraud in tax returns.
Also on Data-Smart, Danielle Fulmer—Director of Business Analytics at the City of South Bend—wrote a guest post highlighting the city’s efforts to make its open data more inclusive, attractive, and useful. South Bend has begun launching issue-specific, interactive transparency hubs that bring together transparency-related documents on a priority subject in a centralized and easily navigable space with contextualization and visualization tools. Recently, the city launched a transparency hub on policing, which is meant to anticipate and respond to questions on topics like the complaints investigation process and use-of-force incidents.
Motherboard interviewed Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki, chief analytics officer for the City of New York, focusing on how the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) is using data analysis to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Mashariki emphasized MODA’s focus on emergency response, ensuring that the city has the right technological infrastructure and processes in place to act in emergency situations. Each month, MODA works with city agencies to conduct a data drill, presenting an emergency scenario and asking them to respond. “We think about these agencies, whether it's the NYPD or FDNY, but then there's also questions about data that needs to get passed so that the leadership of these agencies have a better level of insight,” said Mashariki.
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future has created a Maryland Food System Map, which displays disparities in food access across the state. The map plots production, distribution, processing, and consumption within Maryland’s food system across 175 data layers based principally on data from federal, state, and local databases. Officials hope that they can use the map to identify food deserts and target interventions. Read more at Route Fifty.
CityLab worked with ESRI to produce visualizations on gentrification and population changes in New York City’s 55 sub-boroughs between 2000 and 2015. The visualizations provide information on changes in income and racial makeup in the city’s neighborhoods, underscoring New York’s drastic transformation.
Also on the topic of mapping, philly.com reported that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released a new public website that includes maps of abandoned mine lands, air quality, hazardous waste sites, streams, and other data. Available at OpenDataPA, the site includes more than 300 digital datasets and maps that are updated daily, promising to improve transparency, efficiency, and customer service in the state.
On May 9th, federal agencies began reporting data in compliance with the open standards created under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), according to the Sunlight Foundation. By following these standards, the federal government will give citizens, watchdogs, Congress, and federal workers unprecedented public access to information on spending, improving oversight and accountability as well as increasing opportunities for activism and innovation. In order to spur continuous improvements in transparency and open data by the federal government, those with a stake in the DATA Act must support the law’s implementation by using the new data, helping identify and fix problems where they appear, and holding agencies publicly accountable for their commitments.
After the EPA deleted troves of data from its climate page last week, the City of Chicago has uploaded all of the archived, detailed climate change content onto its homepage. The page includes basic information and data about climate change and analyzes climate impacts in the Midwest, ranging from the effects it could have on human health and water resources to agriculture and ecosystems. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on the site, “while this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.” Read more on Global Citizen.
StateScoop discussed Washington, D.C.’s new open data policy, which sets an “open by default” standard for all District government data. Created through an executive order by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the policy includes new classifications and governance around publishing data to the district's open data portal. D.C. developed the policy with the help of transparency advocacy nonprofit the Sunlight Foundation with the intent of encouraging agencies to share their data by providing instruction and rigor around the process.
Wired profiled a new tool rolled out by the City of New York that grants city agencies and non-profit groups a comprehensive view of all of the data being collected on New York’s homeless on a daily basis. Called StreetSmart, the application is used by 400 outreach workers daily to check in on homeless residents and collect information about their health, income, demographics, and history in the shelter system. The hope is that the tool will allow the city to better serve homeless individuals over time, as previous databases were not fully integrated, meaning that outreach workers could not know if a person they were talking to today was the same person they had input information on a week ago.