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What’s New in Civic Tech: Seattle Builds Benchmark Dashboard

Plus, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, approves funding for a full-time digital inclusion staffer; Chicago launches a new data portal that details developer compliance with affordable housing rules; and more!

by / December 12, 2019

Seattle has launched Performance Seattle, a new centralized dashboard where visitors can see what Seattle is doing to improve the quality of life in the city. 

Performance Seattle is essentially a benchmarking visualization, one that residents and other interested parties can use to track the local government’s performance on a range of issues, including basic city services. The platform provides this look at performance data a few ways, including data visualizations with maps, charts and infographics. 

The information is split between seven dashboards, each of which tracks a different priority area. These areas are basic city services; safe and healthy communities; affordability and livability; homelessness response; capital projects; environment and climate change; and future of work. In a press release announcing the initiative, city officials note that all of this is likely to be of use for both residents and internal local government employees, including project managers, directors and other staffers.  

Goals on the dashboard include things like a commitment to repair 80 percent of city potholes within three days, or for the police department to respond to 100 percent of high-priority calls within seven minutes. 

In developing the dashboard, Seattle identified three guiding principles: staying resident-focused, being collaborative across departments and using innovation to do thinks like make data available in real time. 

Performance and benchmarking dashboards such as this one are foundational elements of data-driven governance. Basically, the idea is that without the ability to track the progress you’re making, it’s a lot harder to determine where you want to go and how you can get there. This dashboard helps accomplish that by bringing together existing citywide date in a centralized and easy-to-access location. 

Performance Seattle was built over many months by the Seattle Innovation and Performance team, which developed with the help of more than 150 members of the city’s staff. For several months, Performance Seattle will be in what officials are calling a “soft launch” status in order to ensure that data is correctly updating each month. During this time, the team will also continue to work to take feedback and make the platform better.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Approves Funding for a Full-Time Digital Inclusion Staffer

Following a recent report about the importance of digital inclusion, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, has voted in favor of funding to support a full-time digital inclusion staff member for 2020.  

The report, which is titled Connecting Cuyahoga, is the work of the digital inclusion advocacy group, Connected Insights. Authors of the report focused on the benefits for Cuyahoga associated with digital inclusion, noting in the summary of it that, “county investments in online platforms and public-facing systems hold great potential for improving County services. Yet such efforts will not yield their expected returns while roughly half of the potential users of these systems live without access to the internet or the skills to use it.”

Details are scarce about the exact nature of the position and the timeline for hiring. It should be noted, however, that an increasing number of city and county jurisdictions across the country are adding staffers dedicated to digital inclusion. As society modernizes and online skills become more vital to basic participation, government entities are working to ensure that the citizens in their areas have the opportunities and skills needed to stay relevant in a digitized world.

Moves like the one Cuyahoga County approved are a key part of these efforts.

Chicago Data Portal Details Developer Compliance with Affordable Housing Rules

Chicago’s Department of Housing has launched a new online dashboard with maps and data related to developers complying with city rules intended to spur construction of affordable housing. 

Through this new dashboard, users can access a map of all developments that has information they can use to view things like the number of affordable housing units planned as well as the fees that developers might be paying to avoid building affordable housing as required. The entire thing is an effort to promote transparency as it relates to the city’s zoning and affordable housing program.

With a national housing crisis making affordable housing construction a topic in many major cities, it wouldn’t be surprising to see what Chicago has done spread to other jurisdictions that have passed similar laws. 

San Francisco Hiring for Pair of Key Tech Roles

San Francisco, a jurisdiction that has long been at the forefront of municipal government tech and innovation work, is now hiring for a pair of key tech roles.

The San Francisco Department of Technology announced on Twitter this week that is seeking both a chief privacy officer and a chief data officer. The jobs are posted online now. Best of luck to everyone working on their resumes and LinkedIn pages.

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Zack Quaintance Assistant News Editor

Zack Quaintance is the assistant news editor for Government Technology. His background includes writing for daily newspapers across the country and developing content for a software company in Austin, Texas. He is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached via email.

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