Boston shares its CityScore secrets

Boston shares its CityScore secrets

Thanks to Boston, any organization or city can track and score the overall health of its community every day.

Boston has made its CityScore open source toolkit available on GitHub, allowing anyone to leverage the algorithms behind its citywide performance metrics tool. First launched in January by the city’s Department of Innovation and Technology and Analytics, CityScore displays citywide performance data for the mayor, city officials and citizens on a Fenway Park-style scoreboard.

CityScore tracks 20 real-time indicators scores the city’s overall performance daily. A score of 1 means the performance is meeting expectations, above 1 is exceeding targets and below 1 means the city is falling short.

Though many cities are rating public services on citizen-facing dashboards, CityScore combines open data from multiple civic sectors to calculate its score.  The scoreboard aggregates metrics on public safety, economic development, education, innovation and technology, health and human services, basic city services and constituent satisfaction.

The toolkit provides a customizable version of the CityScore performance management system so that a city can use its own data to create and score a set of performance metrics. The toolkit will accept data via manual entry, a .CSV file upload or by connecting directly to a SQL server. Based on that data, the algorithm will combine the daily performance metrics into a single number and overall performance grade.

The city hopes that providing its open source software and CityScore model to a wider audience results in a collaborative effort to improve the tool in the future.

Since its launch, CityScore has led to improved city services. Tracking emergency medical services response times uncovered an increase of number of emergency calls but no corresponding increase in resources. This prompted the mayor to include additional funding in next year’s budget to replace ambulances and hire new emergency medical technicians.

Boston plans to add more content to align with its fiscal year 2017 priorities and provide all city departments with the tools to “visualize and drive performance.” The CityScore toolkit is available on GitHub, and so far, three cities have volunteered for user testing.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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