Connecting state and local government leaders
“We provide the raw data, but this gives residents the ability to see and understand datasets” that show how California’s sixth-largest city is evolving, according to Mayor Robert Garcia.
The city of Long Beach, California, made more than 100 municipal datasets publicly available with locational context Monday on DataLB, a new geospatial and open data hub to be regularly updated.
Long Beach’s website uses spatial analytics technology from Esri, a Redlands, California-based GIS company, to visualize data in map layers helpful in finding locations of new businesses or arranging volunteer efforts, among other information of interest.
In the works for two years since the creation of Long Beach’s first Technology and Innovation Commission, DataLB is the product of eight months of community input on desired datasets.
“For the average user, just having a bunch datasets may not be as interesting as being able to manipulate data,” Mayor Robert Garcia told Route Fifty in a phone interview. “We provide the raw data, but this gives residents the ability to see and understand datasets.”
Information on Measure A—the city’s record 10-year sales tax increase generating about $390 million for investment in infrastructure, public safety and parks—is contained in an interactive story map showing where funds will be spent on which capital improvements in 2017. Taxpayers can see where their money is going, Garcia said, and track projects’ progress.
Another application, BizMap, presents active, pending or delinquent business license information within Long Beach’s business improvement districts.
Much of the data was previously only available internally, and the hub is being used to collect additional data on issues like homelessness via Esri’s Survey123 for a future app. A homeless count is planned in two weeks by the Long Beach Continuum of Care.
“We hope to do a better job making homeless counts accessible to the public, public agencies and social services, so they’re better at doing their work,” Garcia said.
The Long Beach City Council adopted an open data policy on Dec. 20 and wants to study how people interact with DataLB and get their feedback in order to improve the experience.
Esri has helped build many open data portals nationally, Garcia said, and this is some of their best work yet. Other DataLB features include a Popular City Maps section and snapshots of local pollution, demographic shifts and even the rapid rise of farmers markets.
“Providing data online is not a new concept in government,” Bryan Sastokas, the city’s chief information officer, said in the city’s announcement. “However, the City of Long Beach wants to drive beyond presenting data online and our DataLB portal is an innovative approach that allows the public to operationalize data, making it more useful to the community and building on the City’s commitment to transparency.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.