In the aftermath of a recession that saw deep and devastating cuts in municipal budgets, it is a struggle for many cities to simply keep up with demands for basic services. This context has proved pivotal in the struggling effort by Oakland, Calif., to develop a public safety "department dashboard." The successes and setbacks of the project could help inform similar efforts to innovate in difficult times.
In Oakland, as in most cities, key information surrounding public safety has been scattered across multiple web pages. It takes time for a resident to discover how to report a crime or determine which agency is responsible for illegal dumping. Furthermore, Oaklanders have had to contend with different sets of crime statistics containing significant disparities, undermining residents' ability to get a complete picture of the crime dynamics in their neighborhoods and in the community at large.