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US city opens itself up for examination

The initial launch includes data from a small group of city departments with more to be added

St Petersburg in the US state of Florida is using data to demonstrate transparency
St Petersburg in the US state of Florida is using data to demonstrate transparency

The US city of St Petersburg in Florida has launched an interactive platform that uses live data to measure its performance, demonstrate transparency and encourage accountability.


St Pete Stat comprises: Project Stat, a tool that looks at all current city development projects; Performance Stat, a performance measurement tool for city departments; and Open Stat, data inventory that’s published for citizens to consume.


"We have been growing our stat programme and integrating data into our work at City Hall for a while now, but this is truly the first time we’ve faced this amount of data outward so that our residents can learn more and hold us accountable,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman: “I couldn’t be more excited to show off this level of transparency."


The initial launch includes data from a small group of city departments. Additional departmental data will be added as its collected.


In a monthly column about the city in the Tampa Bay Reporter, St Pete Stat coordinator, Debbie Volk, writes that there is no data shortage in St Petersburg but for data to be consumable, it needs to be in a format that’s usable and tells a story.


She explains that she coordinated several discovery sessions with departments throughout the city to start compiling data and learn how to best tell the story of the department’s accomplishments and projects. “I learned quickly that it’s crucial for data to be shared across departments. Since data is primarily used to improve processes, timeliness and quality of work, departments expressed the need for other department data to improve their work,” she writes in the column.


“It was clear more than a simple dashboard to display information was needed. An interactive platform that allowed for both city departments and citizens to find data, information and find out what work the city is doing was the answer.”


In January this year, the city launched Stat Map, the first in a series of St Pete Stat tools. Stat Map shows a snapshot by location of the city’s response to residents through code enforcement, SeeClickFix, and police calls for service. Residents are able to sign up for custom-tailored alerts and follow trends for anywhere in the city.


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