Palo Alto steps up open data plan, adds budget data

On the heels of its open data partnership with Junar, the city of Palo Alto, California has launched another open data partnership, this time focused on budget issues. The city has partnered with Delphi Solutions to launch its open budget initiative which will leverage Delphi’s data visualization capabilities to provide budget information to the public.

Delphi Solutions is a new company founded by Joe Lonsdale (co-founder of Palantir, Formation8) and the management team from California Common Sense (cacs.org), to build a platform for providing government data and information to the public and public sector workers. Chief Information Officer, Dr. Jonathan Reichental, initiated the partnership as part of the City’s vision to become a leading digital city.

The budget portal will allow both government employees and residents to interact and visualize budget data. Users can also submit questions and feedback about the budget though the portal. The site also provides a break down of the different types of funds the city uses and how they translate to city services. The main site interface shows the budget data as a visualization users can manipulate with filters. Interestingly, the breakdown also shows a return on government investments, an important nuance that often goes unrealized when simply reading through budget data.

Currently, the city posts it’s budget data as a 300 page PDF, making it difficult, if not prohibitive to interact with city data in a real way. Delphi Transparency, the solution powering the site is meant to provide a more useable, if still slightly gated entry into the budget.

“Open Budget further builds on the work we are doing to fully embrace open government. It translates to a deeper level of interaction with our community. We’re removing barriers and creating a more inclusive government here in Palo Alto,” said James Keene, Palo Alto City Manager.

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