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What’s New in Civic Tech: Google Unveils Search Engine for Open Data

Plus, Syracuse, N.Y., debuts Performance Management Program Dashboard; Santa Clara, Calif., launches free health data portal; new report finds state CIOs see future in AI; and this week’s gov tech jobs.

Google has created a new search engine designed to help users find open data.

Launched this week, the functionality is the latest addition to Google’s specialized search engine set, which has long included commonly used searches like images and news. With this new search engine, it is now much easier for would-be developers and others to look for files and databases that have been released to the public.

Google detailed the new feature in a blog that accompanied the launch. Natasha Noy, a research scientist with Google AI, discussed the potential for the new platform as well as plans for its future, noting in the blog that the idea here is to enable easier access to data, thereby facilitating the work of “scientists, data journalists, data geeks, or anyone else…

“In this new release, you can find references to most datasets in environmental and social sciences, as well as data from other disciplines including government data and data provided by news organizations, such as ProPublica,” Noy wrote. “As more data repositories use the standard to describe their datasets, the variety and coverage of datasets that users will find in Dataset Search, will continue to grow.”

Dataset Search can be used in multiple languages, with developers noting there are plans to add more languages soon. 

Syracuse, N.Y., Debuts Performance Management Program Dashboard

Syracuse, N.Y., has launched a new accountability and performance dashboard aimed at creating alignment and helping the local government work toward its goals.

Syracuse announced its new dashboard, dubbed the Performance Management Program, in a blog post this week.

“This is a program that allows the entire organization to create alignment and work together to achieve shared goals,” the city wrote. “We call these goals objectives and key results, and the Performance Management Program utilizes an agile approach to monitor our progress towards them.”

The Performance Management Program announcement also noted that each week during a department head meeting, officials would review one of the four objectives that have been set out by the city’s elected leadership, working to gauge progress, identify key next steps and just generally work together in order to drive progress toward shared municipal goals. The plan calls for updating the dashboards that make up the Performance Management Program on a weekly basis.

The new performance dashboard platform is simple and easy to read, with progress of goals color-coded based on how close the city has come to completing them.

The blog post announcing the program was written by CIO Adria Finch, who heads the i-team that helped to build and launch the platform. Interested parties can visit the dashboard here.

Santa Clara County, Calif., Launches Free Health Data Portal

The county of Santa Clara, Calif., has launched an open data portal with a focus on health.

The platform, which is the work of the County of Santa Clara Health Department, gives its users an online tool they can use to access health data at a near-granular level, broken down by city and neighborhood. All told, this new portal features more than 100 health topics, ranging from diabetes to opioids to vegetable consumption to even seatbelt use. It also presents its users with local metrics and demographics, allowing them to access info based on criteria as specific as income levels.

The portal, of course, is designed with searchable data that can be downloaded, and in a press release announcing its launch, county officials noted that the idea was to give all residents — including nonprofits, internal government agencies, engaged citizens, researchers, students, and media professionals — a helpful tool for work that supports the health and wellbeing of the county community.

This new portal also features more than 10 story maps, which make the information within easier to digest via the use of story maps that combine narrative text with graphics in order to illustrate certain health issues and how the county government is addressing them.

“Good data is required to make informed public health decisions, and the Open Data Portal helps all of us understand factors that contribute to our health,” said Public Health Department Director and County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “By making our county’s health data accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, we put power in the hands of our community and many partners to help us improve health.”

Interested parties can access the portal here.

Report: State CIOs See Future for Government AI

State governments are looking to the future, and what they see there is an increasingly prevalent use of artificial intelligence.

In fact, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) recently released a new report detailing definitions for AI as well as the general attitudes toward its use among state governments. Dubbed Ready for Prime Time? State Governments Tune in to Artificial Intelligence, the report lays out examples of how some states are already using AI, as well as information about how it can be developed and implemented moving forward.

This Week’s Gov Tech Jobs

This week, there is a trio of new openings in the gov tech space.

Michigan’s Department of Technology Management and Budget’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives is looking for a new departmental specialist to work in its research and evaluation division. More info can be found here.

San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development is seeking a lead for its data-driven program management. More information can be found here.

Open Data DC is seeking a geospatial developer. More information can be found here

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.