The city embarked in 2011 on a data-analysis initiative to help
drum up support for a new upscale shopping district and improve its
tourism marketing. Working in conjunction with data consultancy
Buxton, Palm Springs used aggregated data from Visa, combined with demographic
and psychographic information, to determine that a significant
portion of the city's sales -- 73% of dollar volume -- came from
people who didn't live there. And 13% of the money spent in the
city was from people who reside in America's wealthiest areas,
according to Mr. Raymond.
The numbers helped persuade voters to support a 1% sales and use
tax that could be used toward parks, street renovations and an
upscale retail area including a hotel in the center of town, he
said. He pointed to designer Trina Turk's boutique in Palm Springs
as the type of high-end business it attracts.
The data, which Buxton segments on a neighborhood level for
geographic targeting, has also armed the tourism department with
information it uses to aim marketing messages at key areas where
its visitors reside. "Tourism can microtarget a couple of
neighborhoods in San Diego or West L.A. or where a high propensity
of Palm Springs visitors are from," said Mr. Raymond.
Philadelphia: Brotherly Love for app
Like Chicago and New York, Philadelphia has an official chief data
officer. Mark Headd leads the city's open-government initiative,
providing citizens access to all sorts of city data, such as crime
information, financial data, transit schedules and bike-rack
Mr. Headd's position was created last year under executive order
"to be open and transparent and to give people access to the data
that we generate everyday," he said.
"The biggest challenge we have is legacy systems that are 25, 30
years old," said Mr. Headd.
Providing easy access to city data has inspired third-party
applications like Next Septa, which tells users departure times for
buses, subway trains and regional trains from chosen stops.
Grounded in Philly is another initiative inspired by the open-data
project. It uses government data sets including water-department
permeability data and land use designation information from the
city planning commission to reveal a list of more than 30,000
vacant lots throughout the city.
Jersey City, N.J.: Data gathering moves into the 21st
When Jersey City's newly elected mayor, Steven Fulop, still sat on
the City Council, he sometimes was unable to access data from
"Mayor Fulop was very aware of the lack of transparency and
information and data available, and it's something he's been
thinking about for a while," said Brian Platt, aide to the mayor of
Jersey City, who's heading up its Dashboard Program, a sprawling
data-collection-and-analysis initiative launched in July that
encompasses 17 city departments.
The administration, in part, hopes to improve Jersey City's
reputation, sullied by a history of political-corruption scandals
and a 2009 FBI sting that resulted in arrests of several politicos,
including Jersey City's then-Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini. "We are
looking to rebrand a little bit and this is going to be part of
that," said Mr. Platt. "We want to market ourselves as being a
The city is taking baby steps. Working with key staff in each
department, Mr. Platt has developed Excel spreadsheets for
recording data -- everything from the status of cases conducted by
the law department to where and when potholes were filled by the
department of public works. The information is stored in a shared
Mr. Platt also is working with government software provider
GovQA to develop an app for Jersey City residents to submit photos
and service requests for government services, similar to New York
City's 311 app.
The city aims to work with departments to set targets for
service improvements based on the data once there's enough
information to analyze. For instance, a goal might be to have
potholes filled within 48 hours of a complaint.