City's website of searchable records is up
Published: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at 5:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at 5:45 p.m.
The city of Gainesville's website of searchable electronic records and data went live in early December.
The site, data.cityofgainesville.org, had a "soft launch" on Dec. 6 and now features about 50 data sets, Administrative Services Director Becky Rountree said.
Some available financial information includes the city budget, individual department expenditures since budget year 2011 and the amount the city spends with specific companies.
Bus ridership is available by month, year and route. Building permits are searchable by address, contractor and property owner. Building permits for single-family homes show address and home value. Users also may search code enforcement cases by address, type of violation and property owner.
Utility consumption for city-owned properties and business and residential addresses throughout the Gainesville Regional Utilities service area are also on the site.
Some available maps show parking decal zones, the location of fire hydrants, creeks and solar installations in the feed-in tariff program. One data set shows recreational and cultural projects funded by the 2008 Wild Spaces & Public Places sales tax referendum.
Rountree said the city will continue to add to the available maps and records. One major future addition will be crime statistics.
Users of the site decide how to search the information. For example, code enforcement cases may be searched by type of violation, address or property owner.
"The idea is to have raw data out there that the public can manipulate to get what they're looking for," Rountree said.
The website is part of the city's Government 2.0 initiative, the goal of which is to use technology to make city government more accessible to residents. During his 2012 swearing-in ceremony, Commissioner Lauren Poe first suggested Gainesville join the growing list of cities nationwide that have open-data websites.
The city has a three-year, nearly $198,000 contract with Seattle-based Socrata Inc. to host the site. That contract was approved outside a competitive bidding process in August on a 5-1 vote, with Mayor Ed Braddy in dissent and Commissioner Todd Chase absent.
At that time, Braddy said he supported the city moving in the direction of improved online access to records but wanted the contract bid out.
At that August meeting, Administrative Services staff said other cities around the country, including Dallas and Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; and Wellington in Palm Beach County had also contracted with Socrata outside a competitive bid process, because they determined it was the only firm with servers, software licenses and resources in place to provide the services.
Rountree said the city plans to see the site develop more before launching a public information campaign February.
Poe said that as the site evolves, the goal is to have the data on the site used to develop mobile and computer applications. At this early point, he said, the first step is to continue to add data to the site for the public to access and search as they choose.
"The idea is we're not placing the frame around the picture," Poe said. "We're putting the stuff out there."
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