Madison, Wisconsin Launches Open Budget Tool


The city of Madison, Wisconsin is making its city budget more interactive with a new tool. The budget tool is presented as a map that residents can use to see visually where city projects and city services are located. Users can see how projects outlined in the 2018 budget will impact their neighborhoods and learn more about what city government will be up to over the next year.

ESRI is providing geospatial technology support for the mapping project.

Wisconsin plans its infrastructure projects on a six-year timeline so the data represented in the capital budget and on the map will provide residents with a glimpse into what construction might look like in their neighborhoods over the next six years.

Budget information is grouped into four general categories: facilities, transportation, parks and utilities. Additional links are provided alongside some projects that will show design renderings and other project information.

The map is part of a broader “open budget” initiative underway in Madison. City officials want to move budget data from a 200+ page document into a set of interactive tools that help residents understand how government manages public money. In October, when the city’s operating budget is released, officials also plan to launch another interactive tool around that data.

The interactive tools are part of Madison’s work with the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Initiative. What Works Cities is a project designed to help municipal governments move toward data-driven decision making in policy and also advocates for greater transparency through the use of open and interactive data.

So far, What Works Cities has had some success with getting cities to use open data policies for high-value information like the budget. Early municipal open data projects were often filled with the low hanging fruit of public information – transit times, traffic updates, or municipal studies. New open data projects – like the one in Madison – are getting better at providing critical information.