Digital City Services: Page 10 of 19

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Mobility solutions. Provide residents and visitors tools to help them get around the city – to find destinations; to locate parking spots; and to easily use public transport, including "multimodal" trips (trips that require switching from one mode to another, such as from bus to metro, or from tram to bike share).

For example, the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) worked with Council Partner CivicConnect to integrate and manage data from more than 30 transportation agencies. MTC is the planning, financing, and coordinating agency for nine counties and more than 100 cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It wanted a next-generation 511 system for the area's eight million residents, workers and visitors. (511 was initially a phone hotline for traffic information. Today this information is also available by web or smartphone.)

The new system uses the cloud-based CivicConnect platform to provide multimodal trip planning; real-time departure and arrival times; traffic conditions (including video feeds); parking locations; emergency alerts and much more.

Mobility solutions have multiple benefits. For instance, a multimodal transit app may increase ridership, thereby boosting revenues to the transit operators while also reducing congestion. Likewise, a parking app may increase parking revenues, while also lifting retail tax revenues (because more people are shopping instead of searching for parking).

Open Data. An Open Data portal is a city service that – done properly – can open the door to dozens or even hundreds of other apps. When cities publish non-sensitive data online, they make it easier for their own employees to find information from other departments – information they can use to build better services. And they make it easier for the private development community to build apps that benefit residents. There are presently 21 million software developers worldwide according to Evans Data Corporation.  To successfully compete, cities must enlist that growing community build innovative solutions to city challenges. Launching an Open Data portal is one of the most important things a city can do... so important, in fact, that the Smart Cities Council has created a separate Open Data Guide.

Many cities have passed resolutions to be open by default. “Seattle is one of the most innovative and creative cities in the country," said Mayor Mike Murray in announcing Seattle's Open Data portal. "By opening up key city datasets to the public, we make it possible for problem solvers outside of government to get involved in finding solutions to civic challenges." The policy directs that all city departments make their data as accessible as possible to the public, after screening for privacy, security, and quality.


Seattle's Open Data portal now provides more than 400 datasets. That data is used by private companies, journalists, and developers. It also powers some of the city's own tools, including Open Budget, Performance Seattle, the Police Department’s Neighborhood Crime Map, and the Department of Transportation’s Capital Projects Explorer

 If you truly want the private sector to engage with your data, you’ll need to do more than simply dump hundreds of data sets onto a site. Many local governments are therefore creating “themed” data releases or even separate portals for key topics.  The City of Austin, for instance, released datasets and a public dashboard themed around sustainability. In its press release, the city framed the dashboard as a call to action: “Beyond guiding City actions, we also hope that the community will use this information to consider how they can support sustainability goals for Austin.”

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