West Sussex County Council has become the first authority in the UK to use new software that will give residents open access to its performance data.
For the first time, communities and journalists will be able to monitor and measure, in almost real time, how the council is performing against its key targets – and then integrate that information with their own websites and social media feeds.
The platform, which cost £20,000, is called GovSat and has been developed by Socrata, a Seattle-based software company.
Socrata helps organisations unlock data and transform it into useful information that everyone can easily access, share, and reuse via web-based dashboards.
The West Sussex County Council platform can be accessed at performance.westsussex.gov.uk
The authority is the first in the UK to use the software to revolutionise its performance management and monitoring.
Louise Goldsmith, West Sussex County Council leader, said: “Moving from paper to digital and giving residents the opportunity to see our performance at the same time as we do opens our accountability and gives us a very visual way of explaining how and what we’re doing for our residents and communities, where and how we are spending the Council Tax. It’s very much in line with our agenda to be more transparent and open.
“Of course we want to do the very best for our residents and deliver really good services and this system helps us with that ambition. It brings an honest focus to the services we are not providing as effectively as we could or in comparison with other areas of the country and this helps our residents to hold us to account. We need to be aware of these facts to help us to improve.”
Visitors to performance.westsussex.gov.uk will be able to see the council’s performance against 12 key targets linked to its Future West Sussex vision of giving children the best possible start in life, growing the economy and supporting older people to be independent in later life.
Twelve specific outcomes within those three areas have been defined, such as preparing young people for work and growing the number of jobs in the local economy.
Louise added: “The Socrata system will hold us up to public scrutiny in the most positive and honest of ways while removing any onerous reporting barriers.”
Socrata’s existing clients include the World Bank, Kenya, the United Nations Development Programme, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, USAID, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the City of New York.
Socrata’s Director of GovStat, Beth Blauer, said: “West Sussex is joining an elite group of governments using the best technology available to track the outcomes of their efforts, with total transparency to the public. With the speed and ease of setting up a Socrata GovStat, governments have no excuse for keeping citizens, and even their own departments, in the dark. The era of open government has arrived and it’s here to stay.”