Albuquerque’s Open Data Efforts Are Delivering ROI for the City

With 38 datasets and growing, the city is making a name for itself as an open data leader.

Albuquerque isn't just home to Breaking Bad's Walter White; it's also a hub of open data innovation.

StateTech has already detailed that the Albuquerque Police Department's Real Time Crime Center aggregates dozens of databases, live video feeds and GIS files to deliver nearly real-time information to law enforcement officials. The project, which has been operational for less than a year, is already helping officers perform their jobs and keep safe.

In 2012, another project, called ABQ Data, launched. Led by the city's application development manager, Mark Leech, the project has already saved Albuquerque more than $180,000:

The biggest ROI that departments are seeing right now is that we can reduce the number of phone calls for citizens to obtain information. As an example, people calling about Transit issues were usually waiting for a bus and wanting to know where it was right then. Making our bus datasets available saved about $180,000 last year in calls to our 311 call center alone.

In an interview on the Code for America blog, Leech said that the project is about connecting people, not computers:

Our open data initiative is very much a collaboration –between the Albuquerque community, City departments, and the IT department. More specifically, our Applications Services teams operate under four guiding principles: respect others, do the right thing, promote excellence, and challenge the assumptions. These principles mean that we always try to understand the expectations, hopes, and dreams of our customers while looking for ways in which we can act as facilitators and enablers instead of gatekeepers. We focus on what we can do instead of what we can’t do.

Developers are putting the data to use in the public-transit sector, too. Already, two apps use the data to track buses in the city and on the University of New Mexico campus.

There are a handful of other apps and 38 available datasets. These other datasets contain information about pollen counts, Wi-Fi hot spots, golf courses, voting locations and air quality. The possibilities for useful apps are endless and Albuquerque's developers are just getting started.

Dec 03 2013