Announcing City of Charlottesville Budget Visualization Update

In conjunction with the City of Charlottesville, Smart Cville has developed a new feature for the city budget visualization.

Each quarter the city releases updates on its revenues and expenditures.  This allows different constituencies to track quarterly progress in each area.  Previously, the city would publish this data within a PDF document.  Now, citizens will be able to view this data interactively on the city’s budget visualization website.  Citizens will also now have the ability to export the data (as raw data CSVs or images).  Check out the new quarterly budget visualization update.

There are many applications where this quarterly data is useful beyond city hall.  For example, citizens can now track revenue growth for the recently increased Meals Tax.  Tracking the degree to which meals tax revenue met projections is an important part of evaluating the levy, especially given arguments posited during the public debate over the increase.

meals-tax-example

There are several key features built into the updated system:

  • Automatic visualization rendering (city uploads spreadsheet)
  • Exportable graphs and built-in social sharing
  • Exportable data (CSV format)
  • Multiple graph types (line and bar charts)

In addition, Smart Cville continues to work with the City to improve the annual budget visualization.  These updates will include self-contained hosting, new graph types, and budgeted vs. actual comparisons.

We believe this project is an example of the city’s ongoing desire to improve fiscal transparency and accountability.  According to city Budget & Management Analyst Maya Kumazawa, “With the help of Smart Cville, our goal is to engage more of the public throughout the year. By making it easier for Charlottesville residents to “see” where we stand with the budget each quarter, we hope that they will ask questions and share ideas, resulting in improved services for everyone.”  Kumazawa has been an instrumental collaborator helping guide the success of this first release.

This project also demonstrates the power of government and non-profit partnerships to develop civic technology at a fraction of the traditional cost.  We firmly believe that the model of leveraging civic innovators (informal ones or more formal organizations like ourselves) to help solve public problems is a winning model for all municipalities–especially small cities.

To share new feature ideas for this tool or if you’d like to be part of a team that will open source the code for this feature, please contact us.

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