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Wilmington Mayor Purzycki touts new OpenGov portal


By Ken Mammarella

Wilmington has launched a big initiative to share municipal data and information. The OpenGov portal, accessed with a purple link on www.WilmingtonDE.gov, “enables the public to view and download more information than ever before about city government,” according to a city release.

“It serves to strengthen the public confidence in government,” Mayor Mike Purzycki said at a news conference on Wednesday, July 14. “It tells them everything. There’s nothing to hide.”

OpenGov, designed for both members of the public and city staffers, creates charts, graphs, maps and other visualization tools from government data. It also neatly collects photos and other media. “Let the exchange of ideas be of informed ideas,” Purzycki  said.

The city is paying $27,000 a year for OpenGov, and it is one of about 2,000 clients of this Silicon Valley service, which the state of Delaware also uses.

Wilmington’s OpenGov home page has three major links: one to financial reports, updated daily; a second to capital projects, updated quarterly; and a third to departmental work, updated as needed. OpenGov calls the last two links “stories,” although they’re really collections of facts, figures and short descriptions.

OpenGov displays financial figures ““ such as budgets, revenues and expenditures ““ in multiple ways, including bar charts, pie charts, and spreadsheets, with some figures given historical comparisons as well. For example, the portal charts city employment by department over the last five fiscal years, and it maps capital projects for parks and public works.

OpenGov also charts performance of municipal duties. The Department of Public Works, the city’s largest agency, is tracked for 15 monthly metrics. As of July 14, it was “on target” with one and “on track” with two, and it “needs focus” on the other 12.

The portal is part of the Purzycki administration’s push for transparent, data-driven government. That initiative includes CitiStat, a data-based management system developed by then-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, and CompStat, a statistical analysis of Wilmington Police Department activity. Weekly crime maps are part of both OpenGov and CompStat.

“We’re solving problems in a way that is measurable,” Purzycki said. “We have moved into a new age of information sharing in Wilmington, and that’s how it should be.”

“The entire government is moving to data-driven analytics and accountability,” said John Rago, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for policy and communications.

The city invites questions and comments on OpenGov at OpenGovQuestions@WilmingtonDE.gov.

Wilmington’s first phase of OpenGov involves the public works, police, fire, finance, parks & recreation, licenses & inspections, real estate & housing and planning & development departments. Information from the law, information technology and human resources departments as well as from the mayor’s office, city council, city auditor and treasurer will be added over the next few months.

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