Burbank in the 21st Century and How We Use Data

• News • By Linda Bessin , Medium • View Original »

Our City currently functions on the thinking of “that’s what we do because that’s how we have always done it.” We can have City Departments handle our growth, we can have services function more efficiently and we can take on the new challenges like maintaining our small town feel in an age of economic and social change without impacting our budget. How? Through the use of data and technology.

Data exists regarding all aspects of life in Burbank. It is up to the City and all of us to realize this resource exists, gather the information, and use it to make our lives better and our city more efficient.

Look what happened in Jackson, MS. The local government created an open data portal for the entire community. The portal includes both public datasets (49 to
date) and a performance dashboard based on the community’s priorities. This increased transparency and efficiency. “My ultimate vision,” the mayor says, “is for us to have a city that’s engaged because they are informed.” For example, the top issues of dilapidated properties and potholes helped the city prioritize data releases and informed the metrics used for performance reporting. The entire community — including community organizations, universities, hospitals and the media — is involved in this project.[1]

Also, the Jackson mayor has been taking the portal on a “listening tour,” using it in forums across the city to engage the public in a data-driven assessment of how
the city is doing and what it could do better. He views open data as a critical tool for residents to hold him accountable for achieving results on the issues that matter most to them.

Is Burbank currently collecting data on sanitation problems, traffic congestion, utility usage, housing costs, unemployment, and other factors that affect our daily lives? We don’t know. We should know.

There should also be a City of Burbank App. This could connect residents to frequently needed information, provide immediate updates on situations, and promote city activities among other functions. The City government needs to change and realize that in order to engage residents, it must meet residents where they are and not just act the same way as always. Technology and data can make this happen.

Interested in finding out more about how cities use data? Check out these links:

https://sunlight-foundation.gitbooks.io/tactical-data-engagement/content/

https://whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/

http://thegovlab.org/how-data-can-map-and-make-racial-inequality-more-visible-if-done-responsibly/

[1] https://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2019/apr/09/jackson-unveils-data-portal-increase-transparency/