City of Alexandria has started sharing data via a new online tool on how it performs in regards to main indicators of livability. With it, residents can now see what kind of an impact their government helps or fails to create with their tax dollars.
What the city administration calls the Performance Dashboard contains an ocean of latest available data and annual comparisons on various categories from safety to economy to health, transportation and environment. Officials hope that a higher of level of transparency as a result will lead to a better-informed constituency and build a stronger bond between them and the people.
“I think this is a good way to hold ourselves accountable and get good data out to the public so they can understand how their government is performing,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at a November 12th legislative meeting.
Easy to Use
The online tool is user friendly with a colorful interface and a short response time. It also features explanations about what each figure, term or comparison means under each of the 10 categories.
What users need to do to arrive at the specific page of the tool is to first visit the City of Alexandria webpage and then click on ‘Government‘ to find ‘Office of Performance and Accountability‘ under ‘Departments & Agencies.’ The Performance Dashboard will then be only another click away.
Numbers Tell Both Good & Bad News
Once inside, residents and researchers alike could navigate through the official data of their choice. Under the main category of health, for instance, they will find how some of the most common issues across America have evolved in Alexandria.
Under each category, there are both good and bad news in the form of both improvements and deteriorations with respect to available indicators. So it is clear that it is not a tool to paint everything about the city in a good light.
Again under health, for example, users will discover that the official figures there testify to the presence of more and more overweight individuals in Alexandria. According to the data, the obesity rate among city residents went up from 20.3% in 2014 to over 25% two years later, far above the target of 17.3%. In terms of infant mortality, teen pregnancies and youth alcohol use, however, the trend is generally downward over the past few years.
The Performance Dashboard is, therefore, a helpful tool for the city council to see areas where Alexandria needs different approaches to ensure improvements.
For Councilor John Chapman, it is exactly how they will take advantage of the publicly available data – to find solutions to the issues that are now under a brighter light. “I want to see how we can take the next steps,” he said at the same legislative meeting as Mayor Wilson.