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Author's profile photo Dante Ricci

The Power of Open Urban Data

Imagine the scene. The coffee shop near your office is always packed – the queue’s nearly out the door. But thanks to a clever app, you can order on your smartphone and let the barista know exactly what time you’ll be in. So your skinny latte is waiting for you – piping hot and just the way you like it.  Now imagine you experience the same level of service and convenience when accessing government services. In some cities, this is already happening…

Working together for the people

SAP has been working with the City of Boston to help every city department measure performance. By accessing data from variety of sources, there’s much greater transparency into day-to-day operations. The use of statistical tools makes information accessible in real-time from mobile devices, so officials can continuously evaluate services.

For decision-makers, this has helped them spend money more effectively in ways that directly benefit residents. For example, to identify and respond to properties where there is persistent criminal activity and violations of sanitation and building codes.  Its Problem Properties Task Force has been able to reduce crime rates in targeted areas by 55% using SAP HANA to uncover the hidden stories in Big Data. So it’s looking at old problems in completely new ways, and in the process becoming a predictive and proactive government.

Open data creates engagement and builds trust

There’s another way that increased access to information and digital services are making citizens’ lives better. Boston citizens enjoy 24×7 access to mobile and online performance management tools. Collectively called Citizen Insight, this gives the public a mobile tool that shows what government is doing on their behalf – and in real time – which is building trust across the community.

In the City of Edmonton, the Citizen Dashboard provides performance information about services that support the City’s strategic goals. It makes government more accountable, educates, creates awareness and gets people into a conversation.   There are many different ways of measuring how well targets are being met – or improvements are needed. In the livability category, for instance, there are measures of response times to emergency calls and use of leisure centers.

There are also targets for pothole filling, the time it takes to process development permits, traffic safety rates, waste recycling, and much more. Together, these measures create more than a big picture as the Director of Strategic Services, Aileen Giesbrecht, explains, “By releasing real-time data through the Citizen Dashboard about services that matter most to the citizens we serve, we hope to build public confidence in the work we do every day.”

Similar to the customer experience example of the coffee shop, digitally-empowered cities help to increase liveability in ways far more important than avoiding queues for your daily cup of coffee.  Transparent government services and citizen engagement have limitless potential to improve quality of life

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