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Boston's New Data App Lets Residents Judge City's Performance

A new data-driven website and downloadable app lets Boston residents check in on the city's services performance, including transportation, crime, fire, parks and other departments.

Crime in Boston has gone down by 4 percent compared to last year. Fires are reached within 4 minutes 66 percent of the time. 1,190 cars were towed in September. 

Thanks to a new data-driven website and downloadable app, Boston residents can now check in on the city's performance across various city services, including downloads at the library, tree issues in parks, police and fire response, and traffic and parking issues. 

Called the Boston About Results program, the idea is to track each department's goals against the city's actual statistics in a way that is open and transparent to the public in an effort to let residents see how the city is performing. In addition to the web-based scorecard, there's also an iPad app called Citizen Insight

For example, the city's goal is to respond to 10 percent of graffiti calls within 36 hours in June of 2010, but the target has now shrunk down to 6 percent as of June 2012. Regardless of the low goal set, the city actually responded to 16.1 percent of calls in June 2012.  However, as of September, the response rate has shrunk back down to 7 percent within 36 hours. 

To design the website and app, Boston contracted with SAP America for $650,000, according to the Boston Globe. SAP helped design the analytics system and integrate with the existing Citizens Connect app, which allows residents to report problems they see in their neighborhood. 

Do you use the Citizens Connect App? Do you see yourself downloading Boston About Results to judge the city's services performance? Tell us in the comments. 

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