OpenGov Voices: Now is the time for open data in Mesa


In local government, we are passionate about the “local” part of our government mission – being the first responder, the first line of direct service to our residents and sometimes the first source of information. With more information in our phones (or watches) than most of us can absorb, we all need better ways to visualize and connect the data that matters to our decisions and priorities. Forecasting trends that truly yield the right outcome require a wider conversation, and often even more data. With open data, Mesa, Ariz., is inviting the public to share in this challenge and join us in that conversation.

Mesa is excited to be involved in Bloomberg’s What Works Cities initiative because of the way it engages the public in discussing the data behind key strategic decisions. We plan on using Sunlight’s open data principles and guidelines as we build our strategic priorities and open data strategy to improve where we work, live and play in Mesa. We want to build an open data portal that provides a visual around our strategic goals to increase understanding internally and externally. In addition to the visual charts or maps, we’ll provide the full dataset for the public to use and expand upon.

Aligning with mayoral, council and city manager priorities, we will begin this process concentrating on three, citywide strategic efforts: Increase the prosperity of Mesa residents; reduce blight in Mesa; and increase the vitality and vibrancy of downtown Mesa. Much more to come on the specifics!

Open data is about transparency, yes – but it’s also about better decision-making. An open data portal should be the way citizens see clear demonstration of progress (or not!) with specific goals or performance using data, not rhetoric; a dialogue to discuss what’s important among the noise; another way to identify gaps or new areas of interest. Yes, it’s about the data – but more importantly it’s about the decisions, the dialogue and working toward the Next Mesa!

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