The goal of the Open Data Portal is to make data commonly collected by the Town more reliable and accessible through searchable tools and easy-to-understand visuals. Currently, the portal provides links to:
- Budget- and finance-related data, including the Community Investment Plan, Budget, Transaction Log, Payroll, Cash Receipts and Fixed Assets.
- Building Permits and Business Licenses
- Normal Police Department Daily Log
- Various GIS data and maps (e.g., My Public Services, Zoning and Historic Districts)
“The Town of Normal collects an enormous amount of data which hasn’t always been easy to access,” says City Manager Pamela Reece. “We want people to understand the work the Town is doing, and this user-friendly portal creates an easy way to share data and information.”
Some data has been accessible for a while, but access has been scattered across different parts of the Town’s website. The Open Data Portal pulls these resources together into an easy-to-use, online resource. The portal uses interactive dashboards to present the most-requested data sets in user-friendly formats such as: Monthly Financial Reports, Permits Issued and a Daily Log for police activity.
“We’ve created searchable databases for the most commonly requested information,” explains Vasudha Gadhiraju, director of Innovations & Technology (I&T). “We will continue adding information to the portal. We want to ensure data shared is helpfully formatted (i.e., machine-readable) so students, researchers and interested members of the community can easily review it to gain additional insights.”
The Town plans to add additional data sets to the Open Data Portal soon, including Council Action Reports and additional Crime Data.
The portal provides users with an easier way to search and digest information. The launch of this online resource is one example of how the Town of Normal is working to incorporate Smart City thinking into all aspects of its operations, a goal identified in the Town’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
“This effort is yet another example of a smart city project which uses the power of data and technology to create more transparency and efficiency,” adds Gadhiraju.
Bloomington-Normal Innovation Alliance
The Bloomington-Normal Innovation Alliance, a framework of collaboration to drive efficiency and innovation in the community, will benefit from the more easily accessible data provided through the Town of Normal Open Data Portal.
“The Town of Normal is a proud member of the Alliance,” adds Reece. “This initiative aims to connect community data to research and educational projects. Currently, a lot of staff time is spent responding to requests for information. Making data searchable and easier to access through self-service options like the portal helps others more easily find the data they seek, ultimately saving taxpayer money.”
About the Bloomington-Normal Innovation Alliance: The Alliance’s mission is to empower the Bloomington-Normal region to embrace innovation, bolstering local economies with smart development and policies rooted in connectivity, mobility, equity and sustainability. This effort is a collaboration among Heartland Community College, Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State Universities, McLean County, the City of Bloomington, the Town of Normal, the Economic Development Council and the McLean County Chamber of Commerce.
[Credit: Town of Normal]