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Stockton, Calif., Launches City Data, Public Work Tracker

Through a new online portal that went live last week, residents can keep an eye on public works data — like the number of pothole work orders — as well as other data related to city operations.

public works filling pothole
(TNS) — Perhaps, you wanted to know how many pothole work orders the city has received - 5,336 since 2015 - or how long it is going to take to repair that pesky broken street lamp in your neighborhood - this year the average is about five days. Now that data is just a few clicks away.

The public is being given a peek inside the numbers city officials use to understand and operate Stockton.

Last week, the city launched its Stockton Open Data Portal, an online database that hosts information sets in the forms of graphs, maps and dashboards. And for what City Manager Harry Black calls the real "data geek," can take a deep dive into the source data and line-item lists.

"With governments, particularly local governments, we possess so much data, data on everything," Black said. This new online data portal allows for the city government to provide a method for categorizing the data and making it more functional for internal decision making, Black says. But he added that it also provides a greater level of transparency.

"The public can access either the datasets or the data visualizations and learn more about its local government and what it does," Black said.

Black came to Stockton to be its new city manager in February of last year, succeeding Kurt Wilson, who was fired from the job in July 2019. Prior to Stockton, Black served as the city manager of the city Cincinnati from 2014-2018, where under his guidance the city started a data analytics unit, which was reported to have saved the city millions of dollars and enhanced customer service. Stockton established its own Office of Performance and Data Analytics (OPDA) in May 2020, just a few short months after Black's arrival.

Data is just one component of what he views as his personal management system, Black said.

"It's important if you're going to become more effective. If you're going to be successful, the data is an integral part of it," Black said. "It's not the only part, but it is a component."

Stockton's data portal took about eight to 10 months to get up and running, Black said, a timeline he described as a few months ahead of schedule. In a statement announcing the portal's launch last week, city officials said that it's initial data sets, of which there are 23, "were selected based on volume of requests for service, interest by the public, and the ability to ensure that data extracted from various systems is consistently measured, interpreted, and reliably presented in the Open Data Portal."

"This is just the beginning," Katie Regan, director of OPDA, said in a statement. OPDA created and runs the Stockton Open Data Portal for the city. "As we continue to publish content and explore opportunities for new data, we are also looking forward to hearing from community members, business and nonprofit leaders, educators, employees and other government agencies. This will help us shape and expand this new tool in increasingly more meaningful ways," she said.

City spokesperson Connie Cochran said the portal's datasets fall into three categories: public works, which includes items such as potholes and tree/stump removal data; public safety, such as data pertaining to the fire department and soon to include the Stockton Police Department; and Development, which includes permit data for planning, building and engineering in the city. The 23 data sets also include subsets that can be viewed and explored in visualizations such as maps, Cochran said.

Viewers can also explore the program's data catalog through a keyword search or through topics, such as department, new datasets and most popular datasets. The scorecard dataset, which includes data related to the city's one-page strategic plan, is currently at the top of the list with 71 views and one download.

The portal also includes short video guides to help navigate the program's features and an opportunity to provide feedback to the city or ask questions. You can also create a free portal account that allows for data to be exported or transformed into different visualizations, such as bar graphs, scatter plots and maps.

Black said the portal has features for both data geeks and the novice user who isn't technologically advanced. "Anybody can go on and point and click and move around and surf around the dashboards."

Data on the portal goes back to about 2015 and will be updated as new data becomes available, Black said. The site will also likely see more kinds of data being uploaded in the future, he said, noting that Cincinnati started with about 15 to 20 datasets and now has several hundred.

"That's the beauty of this is that we can create a data set for anything," Black said.

Find the Stockton Open Data Portal at

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