Jackson Unveils ‘Data Portal’ to Increase Transparency

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Jackson residents can now use an online data portal to see how the city is spending their money and planning to change Jackson. Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine and the City's consulting data scientist, Lacey Loftin, introduced the city's new OpenGov Data Portal system at a press conference on Monday.

The main goal of this new program is to provide a more "robust" data system than the one that was previously in place, Blaine said. It will also provide clarity on historical data, allowing officials and citizens to see social trends more clearly. The OpenGov Data Portal currently offers a variety of crucial information ranging from population and poverty data to city-planning strategies.

Loftin and her team developed the OpenGov portal by compiling statistics from federal agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the City of Jackson's digital systems.

"We envision for this tool to be used for transparency, policy and advocacy to help guide NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and governmental agencies with the information they are seeking," Loftin said. "As we continue to make OpenGov useful, city officials will release data as we discover and visualize it."

At its launch, the portal includes charts and graphs on data such as traffic deaths, migration, and changes in birth and death rates by race. The latter chart, for example, shows that white Jacksonians saw the largest increase in death rates, due in part to an aging population since 2010.

At the April 8 press conference, Loftin said that, unlike the city's 2016 attempt at cataloguing data, OpenGov will eventually house city data from all departments on a single platform and there will be little delay in the availability of that data online. Additionally, she said because there is considerably less human involvement in this system, errors are less likely to occur.

For a system constructed for accuracy and

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