New Somerville ‘Data Farm’ Gives Real-Time Look at City Operations

New interactive, online portal makes raw data and data visualizations available

 

     
SOMERVILLE – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone is excited to announce a new home for the City’s data sets, which gives Somerville residents easy access to the same data he uses to make decisions. Now you can take a trip to the Data Farm to follow data trends in the City and use the data for your own analysis.

Somerville’s Data Farm (www.somervillema.gov/datafarm) is home to “locally sourced and handpicked food for thought,” which includes three portals of data visualizations as well as a fourth portal with the “data seeds” (the raw data) used to “grow” the other portals:

· Daily Dashboard: http://www.somervillema.gov/dashboard is an expanded version of Mayor Curtatone’s Key Systems Indicators dashboard. On this dashboard you’ll find a variety of visualizations related to living, working, playing, and raising a family in Somerville. Clicking on the “Daily” tab will give you access to the same daily data updates that the Mayor and his senior staff review each morning.

· 311 Explorer: http://311.data.somervillema.gov lets you explore service requests sent to 311. You can search by a specific address or work order number, or go to the map to explore requests made in your neighborhood or around the City. Click “Start Exploring” to see a series of doughnut charts with 311 data updated daily for you to digest.

· Budget Visualization: http://budget.somervillema.gov takes the City’s budget data and puts it in an easy to read format that lets you dig deeper into the numbers. You can see breakdowns of expenses and revenues, compare budgets over time, and see how much of the average tax bill goes into each category.

· Open Data Portal: https://data.somervillema.gov is the home of the raw data you see visualized on our dashboards. Play around with the data sets, do your own analysis, and if you find something interesting, please let us know.

“Data is the lifeblood of the daily policy and operations analysis we do in Somerville,” said Mayor Curtatone. “It is central to how we manage operations, track service delivery, deploy resources, and measure satisfaction. So of course we would want to share that same information with residents, who help guide our decisions every day.” 

The daily data dashboard was designed and built in-house with free and open-source tools. It employs a specialized algorithm to sift through dozens of variables and find trends that require the Mayor’s attention; for example, highlighting an increase in requests for a particular service. This algorithm, combined with a novel approach to automate the cleaning, analysis, mapping, and charting of city data, make it unique among similar tools.

SomerStat, the Mayor’s Office of Innovation & Analytics, worked with the vendor Socrata to develop the Open Data portal and the 311 Explorer website. While each dashboard offers specific information and presents it differently, broad categories of data include public safety, demographics, and city services.

Newly released data that may be of particular interest include:

· Proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget data

· Daily reports on criminal incidents and quality of life calls from both the Somerville Police Department and 311

· 2015 Somerville Happiness survey data

· Maps of collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists

· Daily building permit applications, including an interactive map with locations sized as a function of the application amount

· Several new GIS (map) layers, such as building footprints, streets, and sidewalks

“Data helps us track everything in the City from potholes filled to overtime worked to residents’ happiness,” said Director of SomerStat Skye Stewart. “We want to also share that same information with residents in a way that is accessible both to the data newbie and the data nerd.”

The data sets up now are just the tip of the iceberg; expect to see data and visualizations on other topics popping up over time. If there is a data set you’re particularly interested in, please let us know and we’ll do our best to get it posted. Any requests can be sent to somerstat@somervillema.gov.

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