By Jen Kinney.
Last week, the city of Long Beach, California, launched an open data portal that aims to give citizens clear, visual information they can use. In addition to maps displaying police districts and liquefaction zones, and plotting the location of council offices, dog parks, and other city amenities, DataLB provides access to applications that put city data in context.
Developed with GIS software company Esri, DataLB’s applications focus on visualizing the impact of initiatives like Measure A, a 10-year, 1 percent sales tax increase that will fund $150 million worth of public investments over the next three years. Two applications on the site look at the impact of that investment on public safety and public infrastructure, the two main focuses of the spending.
“A Livable Long Beach” shows not only which street segments will receive repairs, but also explains the type of repair — slurry sealing — using before and after photos. A user can click on individual street segments to find out which roads will be fixed in fiscal year 2017, and learn about the citywide plan on the same page. The same goes for improvements to parking, libraries, public spaces and fire stations.
In Long Beach, says Mark Taylor, chief of staff to Mayor Robert Garcia, “that level of transparency has never been available before … . You can actually see pictures, you can see the whole picture at once.
Over 100 data sets now feed directly into the DataLB portal, and more are constantly being added. “The default is set to release, so there has to be a compelling reason not to release something,” says Taylor, like HIPAA regulations around releasing information on individuals’ health. Crime statistics will soon be added. Where possible, that data is rendered geospatially with the help of Esri or used to power applications or other more pointed data uses.