Houston, TX Uses Open Data for Biz to Gov Initiative


The city of Houston, Texas is experimenting with a new business oriented open data project that aims to foster the local B2G sector. Mayor Parker has launched the Performance Improvement Portal,a hub for all of the city’s performance and open data resources. Through the Performance Insight report and the Performance Improvement Portal, citizens are now able to see how the city measures its own performance, and participate in civic innovation projects.

The tools found in the Performance Improvement Portal are part of the mayor’s strategic vision to create a lasting and impactful performance management system in the city. Beginning this quarter, the mayor’s office will be meeting regularly with department directors to review metrics and aggressively target areas that need improvement through Performance Improvement Engagements (PIEs). Each department is assigning Performance Improvement Agents equipped with the city’s internal Lean Six Sigma training to drive process improvements within their organizations and lead PIEs. The city is also improving the way it tracks and reports performance through the implementation of an Enterprise Performance Management System, SAP Strategy Management.

There are currently over 200 datasets available through the online portal, and the city is finalizing an administrative procedure that will lay the groundwork to make all non-exempt data publicly accessible in the future. The mayor hopes to create an environment where anyone can build a useful application for the community and help improve the city.

The city has engaged the technology and startup community in Houston to host several hackathons. A story about the project in the Texas Business Journal notes that the initiative is a use case for effective B2G management. B2G stands for business-to-government, and describes businesses that serve the government. The sector has typically been dominated by big IT players like Microsoft and IBM, but the Houston case could make for civic tech to take a bigger piece of that pie without being considered a separate novelty.

“Some of the smartest people in the world call Houston home, and I hope that open data will encourage civic involvement and increase the pace of innovation in the city,” Mayor Parker said. “There is a talented technology community in Houston that is really engaged and eager to use the city’s data to help the make the city they live in better.”