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Data Analytics Go Public in Boston



December 5, 2012 By

A lot of government agencies use data analytics behind the scenes to measure program success, but the city of Boston is taking the concept a step further. A new website called Boston About Results (BAR) and the Citizen Insight mobile app let Bostonians view statistics on about 200 different data points, like fire department response times, number of vehicles towed and graffiti incidents.

Boston's Public Works department installed 578 pedestrian ramps this quarter, according to the BAR website. A single click into the Public Works section shows progress over time for seven projects run by the department. The user can view graphs comparing the city's goals with actual data, along with more detailed insights.

The website and the mobile app were the result of a $650,000 contract with software firm SAP America, which the city contracted with to improve its back-end analytics system.

“If you don’t measure the things that you do in the city well — or badly — you can’t do anything about it,” Sean Patrick O’Brien, head of SAP’s urban management and public safety division, told Boston.com. “A lot of cities are intensifying their focus on doing the right things well,” he added.


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