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Government Dashboards: How To Create, Display, & Share With Citizens In Mind
Want to create a government dashboard, but aren’t sure how to make it successful? Start here.
A government dashboard helps you tell the story of how you’re executing on your municipality’s strategic plan. Furthermore, it can help prove your city’s management capabilities and foster transparency—which will help attract businesses, citizens, and investments to your community.
But even with all those benefits in mind, actually creating the dashboard can be a challenge. And not only that—after it’s created, you have to be sure it’s displayed appropriately and shared thoroughly, or it won’t be beneficial in the least.
Below, we’ll walk through some tips to help you with each step of this process.
Creating Your Dashboard
A great community dashboard should show your citizens how the city is doing as well as what municipal leaders are working toward and how they’re going to get there. There are three levels of information you need in a community dashboard to make it easy for your citizens to navigate and digest: a summary of the city’s performance, sublevels which summarize each major city division, and details for each individual measure. If you’re unfamiliar with municipal dashboards and how yours should look when you’re done with it, take a look at this in-depth government dashboard example.
Tips For Creating Your Government Dashboard
- Always keep the citizens—not your colleagues—in mind. The citizens who will be looking at your dashboard are your friends, your family, your neighbors, and members of the community who want to know if the city is performing well and if their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Thus, you shouldn’t try to display every single piece of information available.
- Look at other municipal dashboards to determine some common metrics that citizens might be interested in.
- Have regular internal conversations about your municipal performance metrics and what should be included in your public strategic plan—then tie those into your dashboard.
- Hold citizen focus groups to determine whether your dashboard actually increases trust and transparency.
For a kick-start, check out our discussion with Lou O’Boyle, the director of engagement at Zelos. Recently, she developed and implemented a strategic framework for Chesterfield County, Virginia, and she offers a wealth of information about how a city dashboard can be helpful.
Displaying Your Dashboard
If you don’t display your community dashboard in a way that is accessible to and intuitive for your citizens, it isn’t going to become a go-to source for municipal information. And beyond that, you need to ensure you have a simple process to update your information. This will ensure your dashboard stays relevant.
Tips For Displaying Your Government Dashboard
- Ensure that your dashboard is dynamic. Static PDFs, Excel files, and PowerPoint presentations aren’t as easy to navigate as a click-through municipal dashboard.
- Tie in data from your internal reporting system. For example, municipalities using ClearPoint only have to enter their data once. Then, when they want to display their dynamic dashboard, they simply select the measures, charts, and other information they want to be public-facing and publish it.
- Match the design of your website. Having an aesthetically-pleasing dashboard isn’t required, but it certainly helps make a statement that you take your dashboard and its contents seriously. (With ClearPoint, we make this process easy!)
Sharing Your Dashboard
Communicating clearly and openly about the questions that matter to your citizens will strengthen community ties and encourage citizen involvement. There a few ways you can get out ahead of requests for additional information or questions from members of the community. These gestures will be appreciated by your citizens, many of whom will want to add their thoughts.
Tips For Sharing Your Government Dashboard
- Raise awareness about your dashboard. One good way to do this is through open public meetings with your citizens. This article discusses how an open meeting should be run.
- Create a citizen feedback loop. Sharing your dashboard without asking for feedback is like initiating a conversation with someone and then closing the door right as they begin to speak. To encourage conversation with your citizens, consider including a publically-listed email address that is monitored and replied to by a staff member.
- Capitalize on social media. For ideas, take a look at these nine cities that are taking advantage of Twitter to foster transparency with citizens.
Remember, the stronger your vision and commitment is before your create your government dashboard, the better off you’ll be. Getting everyone on your internal municipality team on the same page is a critical first step. (If you need help getting started, download our free community dashboard template!)