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OpenGov Voices: With Bellevue’s data, it’s quality over quantity

Monday, March 14, 2016 8:47
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

Claude Iosso, digital communications coordinator for Bellevue, Wash.

When the city of Bellevue, Wash., launched its open data portal last month, it made a conscious effort to present targeted datasets that would be useful to residents.  

Now, thanks to the ongoing transparency initiative, visitors to the portal can find datasets that help illuminate Bellevue’s economy, neighborhoods, public safety, budget and efforts to be green, among other things.

“We targeted high-value data sets for the launch,” said Sabra Schneider, chief operations officer in the Information Technology Department. “The open data and open budget sites are an important step in continuing Bellevue’s work to be more innovative, data-driven and responsive to our growing communities.”

Bellevue is a city of about 130,000 people, across Lake Washington from Seattle. It’s a high-tech hub, with 50,000 employed in that sector. The community is also known as “a city in a park,” due to an extensive network of parks and trails.

Want to know about Bellevue’s economic growth and competitiveness? You won’t have to wade through dozens of stats. Instead, four datasets can give you a good picture:

  • New registered businesses over the last year;
  • A map of tech startups that have registered with the city;
  • Census data regarding Bellevue’s labor force and household income; and
  • Estimates of total employment in Bellevue over the last 15 years.

How safe is Bellevue? Datasets cover numbers of different crimes by city district and particular crimes by month. How easy is it to get around the city? Check out a live traffic map showing congestion on major streets. The map is updated every minute.

Bellevue has made an effort to focus on results for years, using resident surveys to guide its budget and programs. Last year, the city rolled out performance dashboards, which present 52 indicators in automatically updated, easy-to-read bar charts.

A screenshot of Bellevue’s open data portal.

The open data portal is another step toward helping the city share its progress in achieving intended results with residents and other stakeholders. The site also presents Bellevue’s budget and expenditures in an interactive, graphic interface.

Bellevue’s open data portal is part of the What Work Cities initiative. WWC is one of the largest-ever efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. Launched in April 2015, the $42 million initiative is already providing support to city halls in dozens of cities nationwide and will admit up to 100 on a rolling basis through 2017. Bellevue was selected to participate in December.

“We are excited to work with the talented civic- and technology-minded people in our region to further enhance government services and the use of the data,” said Schneider.  

Bellevue plans to use the open data portal to increase the use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making and further engage residents in government performance. The city will add selected data collections as they become available.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Sunlight? Email us at [email protected]

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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