Arlington Using Data to Connect with Community, Support Economic Development

The Arlington City Council and senior city staff have identified five key priorities to help shape policy and investments in The American Dream City.

One of these priorities is “Put Technology to Work,” which commits the City to deliver better services to its residents and other stakeholders by improving access to information, transparency, efficiency, security and responsiveness. The City has invested in enabling the community to use data via its Ask Arlington app and open data portal, and city staff are empowered to use data in their decision-making and budget requests.

Last year, City Manager Trey Yelverton asked What Works Cities to help improve the City’s ability to treat data as a strategic asset that can be more effectively used to generate reliable insights and provide services efficiently to its more than 380,000 residents.

What Works Cities experts at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx) and the Sunlight Foundation worked with the City of Arlington to make data more consumable, reliable, and readily available for residents, departmental staff, and leadership. The partnership also helped the City’s strengthen its ability to use data as a strategic management tool to connect with residents and increase economic development opportunities.

After gathering public input from a wide range of stakeholders, Arlington formally adopted its Open Data Policy in October. A variety of searchable data is available to the public through the Open Arlington portal.

Summary of Key Accomplishments

This work in data management, open data, and performance and analytics lays the groundwork for the City to incorporate data and evidence in all aspects of its decision-making. What Works Cities and the City of Arlington have worked together to accomplish the following:

  • Actively engage the community in the use of city data by soliciting public comments and edits to the online draft of its open data policy; and meeting with StartUp Arlington, The University of Texas at Arlington, and Tarrant County College to discuss ways they could use city data.
  • Build on existing data practice to establish a centralized authority on city data and elevate the use of data as decision-making tool.
  • Invest in data practices to connect with residents, increase economic development, and create efficiencies in city government.
  • Developed and passed an open data policy with input from public stakeholders.
  • Established a centralized authority on city data by convening a cross-departmental data governance team and working to increase access to data by internal and external stakeholders.
  • Elevated the use of data as a decision-making tool by drafting revisions to key metrics and engaging executive leadership in how to bring data into their regular conversations.