Case Study

User Research for Open Data in Madison, WI

Cities can move beyond the role of data supplier—and foster a “data-to-action” pipeline.

Problem: As cities increasingly make their data open and available to the public, governments hope their partners and residents will make use of that data to improve life for all. But for this “open data” to achieve its full potential, governments need to build long-term collaborative models with local partners to build capacity and ensure that data can reach where it’s needed most.

Solution: Reboot worked with the Sunlight Foundation and the City of Madison, Wisconsin to investigate who in the city is best positioned to use open data to solve problems in making equitable development to neighborhoods. We developed clear, visual tools that help the City identify the best ways to connect with and support these champions moving forward. Read our report about Understanding Madison’s Data Users.

Panthea Lee and team in a project synthesis session

The City of Madison wanted to push its open data work forward. Since establishing an open data policy in 2012, the City has made 136 datasets available. But that data has been used only minimally by local residents and community groups.

Local residents identified neighborhood-level equity as a priority for the City to pursue. Through the Imagine Madison process of citizen engagement, the City saw that, while Madison is often ranked highly for quality of life, amenities are not equitably distributed. People of color are especially removed from access to services, public space, affordable housing, and multiple transportation options.

Reboot supported research into how open data could support equitable development. When Madison engaged the Sunlight Foundation to apply its Tactical Data Engagement strategy and find ways to generate demand for open data, Reboot supported the project in a targeted research phase to respond to neighborhood development concerns.

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Who’s Using Data in Madison, Wisconsin?

02.07.2018 | Asch Harwood