Collecting Data that Serves (and Matters to) the Community and Beyond
Jonathan Wisbey, Chief Technology Officer in New Orleans, believes the smart city journey starts at the community level; where people have the best sense of how you can help them and how you can get them the data and information they need to help them live their lives to the extent that they want to. This is why they’ve been a national leader in terms of open data.
For years, New Orleans has been collecting data, and over that time the city has made a very large portion of the city’s data sets available online for the community to pull and use as needed. They regularly update that data to ensure they are providing the best information to their community. And what they’ve found is that less than 10 percent of their data sets are being used on a regular basis by members of the public or nonprofit organizations.
But wait… they are providing FREE data to the community. Why isn’t more of the community taking advantage of this?
Collecting Data that Matters
As Wisbey has discovered, the problem is they were collecting data and sharing what they thought mattered, but in actuality, it didn’t truly serve the community.
“Every time we pushed out something that didn’t work, that people didn’t use, it was almost always because we misunderstood that the actual business case was for the end user. We just assume ‘this is really nice and cool, and the public will love it,’ and while many times that’s true, sometimes it’s not.”
So, the team at New Orleans had to take a step back so they could better understand what the community wants to use data for, what types of data they had that might fit those needs and then build data systems that were conducive to citizens actually using them and would make a difference in their daily lives.
New Orleans has moved to build community buy-in and engagement from the front end so what they deliver on the back end will be something people will actually use. They have focused investments in modernizing their integral city systems so they can collect more coherent and usable data. Combining this with analytical platforms, tools, and dashboards that they’ve built, they can now deliver data that allows their managers to understand their operation better. Moreover, they have better insight into how their individual actions impact the day-to-day lives and outputs of their employees.
We’ve really focused internally on trying to make sure that the city and the city’s managers have data at their fingertips so that they can effectively manage their personnel. The next phase that we’d like to move towards is becoming even more customer focused. We have managers who understand more about their daily operations and can provide improved and more efficient services. Now we need to sure those services are properly tailored and geared toward what the community expects and wants.
These insights were shared at the Smart Cities Innovation Accelerator at Las Vegas.