Director of Office of Performance Management and Open Data
City of Chattanooga, TN
Despite having a fairly robust open data program that publishes helpful information about city operations, dry spread sheets weren’t easy or enticing for most people to use.
In early August, the City of Chattanooga (pop: 178,000) launched “City Insider,” a simple online map that allows citizens to be in the know about what’s happening in their community.
The map, which is interactive, is loaded with data like 311 requests and recent incidents involving city agencies like the police department, and can be filtered by date, neighborhood, and council district. Users can sign up for free and get daily, weekly or monthly email updates.
For example, using City Insider, residents can see the number of calls coming in about graffiti or complaints about vacant lots as well as drug violations and break-ins. “We see open data for its own sake as a waste,” Tim says. “For us, it’s about how we can leverage open data for use by our citizens and the city.”
To understand how the new app would work, the city did a user testing with neighborhood leaders, most of whom immediately zoomed in on their own houses and neighborhoods, which “affirmed to us that the map interface was the right thing to do.” The city is now in the process of community training, piggybacking on other gatherings like city council and neighborhood meetings.
Most people aren’t aware of the information they can get from the city but are excited once they see what’s available.
Born in Austin, grew up in a small Texas town, Levelland (an apt description of the prairie landscape). Moved to western Washington state at age 8. Undergrad in urban studies at Rhodes College in Memphis (’02) and a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of Memphis (’07). Met wife at Rhodes (both were Bonner Scholars), and they now have two daughters, ages 5 and 7. Bikes to work, and home at midday to eat lunch with kids.
In current role since 2015, where he works to achieve government transparency and citizen empowerment through city’s open data portal, crunching data to deliver better city services. Started as a transportation planner with the City of Memphis in 2006.
Does volunteer mapping for Open Street Map, a “Wikipedia” for maps. (Think: mapping of sparsely populated areas for humanitarian efforts to deal with outbreaks of malaria.)