County Executive Isiah Leggett today announced a major advance in the County’s open government efforts that will significantly improve government transparency, accessibility and efficiency. Joining him for the announcement was County Councilmember Hans Riemer who initiated the open government legislation that was passed this week (Bill 23-12) to support the County’s open government efforts into the future.
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Leggett’s announcement included a new digital roadmap that will guide the County’s efforts to deliver better services using modern tools and technologies; a new open data website that will provide constituents with convenient access to a growing variety of information; a new social media platform to encourage public participation on key County issues; and, new mobile versions of the County’s award-winning web portal, MC311 website, and Storm Operations website.
“Providing this diverse community with a responsive and accountable County Government has long been my highest priority, I am pleased that these new efforts will substantially strengthen this County’s ability to be even more transparent to our residents and businesses, as well as more efficient internally,” said Leggett. “I want to thank Councilman Riemer for his support of these efforts.”
“Our Open Data legislation will completely change the way Montgomery County collects, manages and publishes data. The bill establishes an open data policy and then requires the executive branch to prepare an open data implementation plan for Council approval. I want to thank County Executive Ike Leggett and his team for their impressive work in building the information infrastructure required for future innovations in service delivery and resident engagement.”
Montgomery County’s Chief Information Officer Harash (Sonny) Segal provided details of the new openMontgomery (http://montgomerycountymd.gov/open) website which the Department of Technology Services developed and will maintain along with the Public Information Office. The website includes four distinct portals:
accessMontgomery (http://montgomerycountymd.gov/acces) provides convenient links to existing digital services related to accountability, accessibility and transparency, such as MC311 as well as CountyStat performance tracking. It also includes direct links to internal audits, spending disclosures, contracts, open solicitations, budgets, and free WiFi locations in the County;
dataMontgomery (https://data.montgomerycountymd.gov) provides direct access to disaggregate data sets, which include employee salaries, cable inspections and complaints, residential and commercial building permits, hospitals, schools, fire stations, post offices, real property taxes and MC311 requests. The data is available for viewing, and can be sorted and consumed in various ways, including by individuals and businesses in the development of smart phone and other applications. Resulting applications would provide value to residents and better connect them to County services. The menu of datasets will continue to grow as more become available for publication. Datasets included in the dataMontgomery portal will also be accessible on the https://www.data.gov/communities, where data can be explored and compared with other jurisdictions such as the cities of Chicago and Baltimore, and the states of California, Colorado, Maryland and Massachusetts. Montgomery is the first county in the nation to be included on the cities.data.gov website.
engageMontgomery (http://engage.montgomerycountymd.gov) is the new social media platform that will serve as an informal online Town Hall Meeting or a place where people can share ideas on ways to improve the community. Users who sign up for an account are encouraged to offer their own ideas and to support the ideas that they like best from others. Elected officials, department heads and program managers will be able to gain valuable public feedback on various topics such as the kinds of books that the Library Department should purchase for its collection, or funding priorities. Users gain points for signing up, points for good ideas, and even more points when others support their ideas. Points can be “cashed in” for various prizes such as a free round of golf at a County golf course, a home security evaluation by a County police officer and a story time and tour for up to four children at a County library.
mobileMontgomery (http://montgomerycountymd.gov/mobile) offers a listing of the County’s mobile sites such as MC311 and Transportation’s Storm Operations with directions on how to bookmark them, as well as apps such as Library BookMyne, Crime Reports and RideOn Real Time that can be used anytime and anywhere.
Previous accountability systems set in place by County Executive Leggett such as MC311 and CountyStat -- along with the integration of social media tools and new web and mobile technologies – open the door to even stronger open government efforts that will invite innovation, economic development and community participation. These are expected to move Montgomery County, Maryland towards even greater service improvements and efficiencies in the future.