Cincinnati Puts City Data in Citizens’ Hands to Improve Government Transparency

Calls for government transparency are increasing as citizens want to know exactly what information governments have and how governments are spending taxpayer money. Cincinnati has taken these calls to heart and has invested roughly six months and $55,000 into 15 new dashboards that help educate and inform citizens.

The City’s new “CincyInsights” portal gives citizens 24/7 access to 15 data sets that cover everything from real-time snow plow tracking info and in-progress road projects to crime and heroin overdoses. Citizens can now analyze mapped data using different filters including location, date, activity type, and more. The city plans to add additional dashboards in the future.

“What we’re doing here is much bigger than just plotting data points on a map. We are opening the city’s data to the public in new and interesting ways,” said City Manager Harry Black. “We recognize that access to local government’s information is fundamental to transparency and accountability. These are core values; people have a right to know what their government is doing.”

The city has already placed an emphasis on both transparency and open data with its OpenData Cincinnati portal. The new dashboards simply translate existing data into more user-friendly visualizations.

The new dashboards also allow the city to bring together existing technology to better serve citizens. For instance, Cincinnati’s snow plows were already equipped with GPS trackers; with the new CincyInsights dashboard, citizens can now track snow plows in real time. Citizens can choose safer, quick routes during inclement weather before leaving their homes.

“Having this data at our fingertips will enable us to enhance city services and become a more efficient organization,” said Mayor John Cranley. “This is also a great way to utilize technology to increase transparency.”

Cranley’s administration is working to establish Cincinnati as a national model for the use of data analytics and technology in local government. According to his administration, this latest initiative is an outgrowth of the work of the Office of Performance & Data Analytics (OPDA), which was created by Black in 2014. The office works closely with city departments to compile, centralize, and automate the publication of data. OPDA’s data strategy, deployed citywide, ensures transparency and enhanced customer service through frequent publication of high-quality data for public consumption while enhancing performance management.

Cincinnati has tied the dashboards’ organization system to Cranley’s strategic priorities: Safer Streets, Growing Economy, Thriving and Healthy Neighborhoods, Innovative Government, and Fiscal Sustainability. Currently available dashboards are:

Safer Streets

  • Heroin Overdoes
  • Fire & Rescue Incident Responses
  • Police: All Response Activity
  • Fire: EMS Incident Response Activity
  • Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV)

Growing Economy

  • Certified Vendors (MBE/WBE Program)
  • Contracts Awarded (PRC: MBE/WBE Program) (Will be live next week)

Innovative Government

  • Snow Plow Tracker
  • Customer Service: Citizen Service Requests (CSR)

Thriving & Healthy Neighborhoods

  • Greenspace Maintenance Plan
  • Street Sweeping
  • Private Lot Abatement Program (PLAP)
  • Trash Collection Routes

Fiscal Sustainability

  • Streets: Pavement Condition & Street Rehabilitation Program
  • Streets: CSR Pothole Requests
Kate DeNardi
About Kate DeNardi
Kate DeNardi is 21st Century State & Local's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs
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