Minneapolis Launches DataSource, Offers Transparency

The city of Minneapolis, MN has launched a new website – Minneapolis DataSource – which hosts virtually all of the city’s current and future data to  provide transparency and a single place to find city data. Currently including more than 40 dashboards, the city’s Chief Information Officer Fadi Fadhil and his team expect to add more as the city collects more data. The project is expected to accelerate policy planning and data-driven decision making for the public and city employees.

City Council Member Steve Fletcher said, “People have been asking for this for a long time. We are in an era of, sometimes on social media, rumours and misinformation. People sometimes feel like we’re trying to hide things too…and I think it’s very important for us as a city to talk about the facts and to get the feedback…and to get everybody on the same page about what reality looks like.Having these tools so that everybody can form their own conclusions based on the same set of facts is game-changing for a city.”

Minneapolis DataSource is part of Fadhil’s “data quilting” strategy that integrates Minneapolis’ various systems.

“Digital Quilting is an intentional idea that all of our data systems are to connect with each other to make a fabric of information, stitched together by the thread of systems,” Fadhil said. “[Policymakers] always lean on IT and say ‘what can technology do?’ And technology goes back and says ‘what do you want?’ But in reality, technology is responsible for showing the city the art of the possible.”

Minneapolis DataSource currently contains dashboards for four categories of public data: elections, public health, community safety, and housing and development. More categories and dashboards will be added through the “constant automation” of data collection around the city. The dashboards are searchable by location and precinct, date and demographic identifiers, such as race, gender and age – when relevant.

“It almost turns us all into data scientists,” Fadhil said. “We look around, we click, we have that critical thinking and we get the analytics of the data and we can even look for trends and get that story that the data is telling us.”