A Catalogue of Civic Technology and Open Data Use Cases

This week in lists we love

In the last decade, Open Data has gone from being a wild idea to a broadly accepted, and even expected, government service. This transformation created new space for thousands of hackathons all across the country, a burgeoning civic tech industry, and new ideas of what citizens should expect from government. The arc of change is slow but it moves towards data-driven digital services.

The Harvard Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation started compiling a list of problem-driven use cases where data and analytics made all the difference by asking “what kinds of operations-enhancing questions have cities asked and answered with data and analytics?”

How can we improve cooperation between city services with shared clients?

Boulder County, CO expanded the number of residents who receive services by 140% by focusing on early-intervention measures that prevent more expensive services down the line. Under the newly unified Department of Housing and Human Services (HHS), the County uses technology to provide an integrated service delivery system, including tools to track clients’ case histories across programs, refer clients to additional program areas, and collaborate with other department caseworkers.

How can social media data help identify public safety issues?

Huntington Beach, CA monitors social media in real-time for keywords that suggest problems may occur in order to deploy officers efficiently and proactively.

Where will medical needs be after a natural disaster?

During the first 48–72 hours after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, health workers and emergency response teams faced serious communications challenges. Cell and phone lines were down and there was no way to determine which providers or areas were most in need of assistance. To address this issue, Direct Relief, a nonprofit involved in emergency response, predicted which groups were most in need of assistance by using proxies, such as the electric-grid outage maps and the availability of local pharmacies, and then deployed workers to the hardest-hit areas.  

Can we target outreach and intervention to those at risk of poor health outcomes?

Staff in the SoonerCare (Medicaid) program in Oklahoma analyzed patient data to identify Medicaid recipients likely to have poor health outcomes. Managers then work to sign these individuals up for intensive, managed-care programs.

Can we target outreach and intervention to at-risk children and youth?

The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families is implementing the Real Connections program, which analyzes children’s social networks. The Department can then identify mentors likely to enable the best outcome for each child.

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