Business & Finance

Dashboard Helps Millburn Visualize Impact of Municipal Services

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Mark Nelson, Revelstone Credits: Revelstone
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MILLBURN, NJ - Parsippany startup Revelstone has introduced a citizen-facing product — the Public Performance Dashboard — for municipalities that are measuring the impact of their services using the company’s platform.

The company’s first product, Compass, is a cloud-based platform designed for local governments that combines performance analytics and benchmarking.

The Public Performance Dashboard is an easy way for citizens to see how various municipal services are being implemented.

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On August 1, 2014, the Township of Millburn became the second New Jersey municipality to post the dashboard on its website. Citizens can see key performance metrics concerning municipal services such as the police, fire department, construction and public works.

Alex McDonald, assistant business manager of Millburn, said,  “Most citizens don’t know what is being done by the various township departments. They know their trash gets picked up, but now they can see all the other things that are being done with their tax dollars. It’s our way to help educate and be more transparent to our citizens.”

A look at the dashboard for sanitation shows that Millburn exceeded its goals for recycling in every month but February 2013, perhaps as a result of bad weather conditions. Millburn’s police department dashboard states that “despite the recent public perception that there has been an increase in crime, this data supports that there has actually been a significant decrease over the past few years.”

 “Each municipality can put online what they think is of value to their community,” Mark Nelson, cofounder and COO of Revelstone, told NJTechWeekly.com. In fact, many of the municipalities will be adding more dashboards to their websites as time goes on.

Often the dashboards are accompanied by some interpretive language, noting, for example, that traffic stops went up because of a purposeful increase in enforcement activity. “What we ultimately want to get to are outcomes,” Nelson said. He added that communities want to know how their services impact the quality of life or make a municipality safer.

“This is really uncharted territory for municipalities,” Nelson noted. “They are new to being more open and transparent with their data … Even for a municipality to be analyzing data to see what’s happening in their own back yard is relatively new. Each of these communities started using our performance management program a couple of years ago. Now we’ve added some capabilities so they can be transparent to their citizens.”

The ultimate goal is to help citizens understand what happens with their tax dollars, Nelson continued. “We as citizens have a limited understanding of what is getting done with our tax dollars. This is a way for a city to start to show the value of the work that is being done in terms of how many inspections are being done or how many were done. We’ll potentially be able to look to see if increased traffic stops have any relationship to a reduction in accidents, for example.”

This story was reposted with permission from NJTechWeekly.com. The original appeared here:

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