Syracuse (and Public) to Use Data to Address Infrastructure, Housing Challenges

Oct 26, 2016

Mayor Stephanie Miner announces Syracuse has been selected to join the coalition of "What Works" Cities.
Credit City of Syracuse flickr

Mayor Stephanie Miner on Wednesday announced a new way to help with Syracuse’s infrastructure thanks to a program the city recently joined, and how residents and others outside of city hall might be able to help.  The City of Syracuse is one of 16 cities selected to join the What Works Coalition this week, and is now among 55 cities working to make government more effective and efficient through the use of data.  She says the program was launched in 2015 by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help collect data and make it available to the public.

"The first areas that we are going to tackle are going to be infrastructure and housing," Miner said.  "We are going to find better ways to compile and utilize data internally.  Then, our goal is to make data open." 

Miner says the plan is to create and compile the data before making it available for the public to use. For example, she says this can help address code enforcement issues and housing quality in order to improve the city’s aging housing stock.

"We traditionally think about 'what are you going to use this tool for.'  Instead with data, you provide it, and people can say this is the problem I have, this is what I'm thinking about; how can I utilize this to determine what problem it can solve."

Miner admits she was initially skeptical of the open-source approach, but her I-team staff convinced her of its viability.  Director of Policy and Innovation  Andrew Maxwell says by opening the data to the public, issues revolving around infrastructure and housing may be solved much easier.

"This is different.  This is a more proactive, forward looking approach where the data that we collect... how do we organize it in a way that we can make better decisions with it," Maxwell said.  "And, open it up to the world in a way where we're more transparent, but also creating opportunities for other people who are good at using data to help us find new solutions to old problems."     

Mayor Miner says some solutions may take longer than others depending on the time it takes to compile the data and draw conclusions.

Miner and the city's I-Team.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News