Arlington Announces New Data Portal, Webcasting of Meetings

Published on February 23, 2016

  • Part of Open Government Program

  • Open data portal offers expanded data sets; user-friendly features

  • Webcasting Planning and Transportation meetings, Board work sessions

  • Making government more transparent, accessible

Arlington County today launched two new efforts under its Open Government Program to make County Government more transparent through increased availability of data and greater accessibility to decision-making.

The Open Data Portal offers an expanded number of data sets, including topics such as Public Safety, Health and Food Inspections, Demographics, Economic Indicators Transportation, and more online. Webcasting of Planning and Transportation commission meetings, and County Board work sessions, will make the deliberations that take place in those meetings more accessible to the public.

"Our residents are busy people who cannot always make it to the County Board Room to sit through hours of discussion," said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. "We want to make sure that they have another option — they can watch both Board work sessions and commission meetings on their computers, in the comfort of their homes, so that they can stay informed about important decisions that may affect their families and our community."

"Technology continues to improve our ability to share data and streamline processes for a more interactive and inclusive government," said Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz. "We will continue to seek out and implement tools like the data portal and web streaming that help us improve access to government and create a better overall user experience for our residents."

Open Data Portal

The new Open Data Portal offers data categorized into 10 areas and are easily accessed with the click of a button. Users may also enter a search term to find the information they need. Icons that indicate the format of the data, for example a dashboard, visualization or simple data view, is another new feature of the portal.

Other features include a new set of maps for viewing information and a feedback tool that allows a person to request that a new data set be made available. Users can also view requests under consideration for distribution submitted by others. New datasets from the County's departments will be made available in the months ahead based on popular user requests and available resources.

The Open Data Portal replaces the County's existing DataHub, which offered limited capabilities.

Webcasting meetings

The County Board today also approved a program to live stream or "webcast" of the Planning and Transportation Commission meetings, as well as designated County Board work sessions. A webcast uses streaming media technology over the Internet to broadcast an event to many simultaneous viewers. The goal of the new program is to engage more residents in the civic process who are not able or choose not to attend meetings. The goal is to increase awareness of County issues and ease participation for a more broad and diverse audience.

County staff will provide webcast services for the identified meetings held in the County Board Room, which has the necessary audio and visual equipment. Expansion of the webcast program to include more meetings, at different locations will be considered as part of the pilot's assessment.

Start date for the webcasts will be announced soon. Visit the County website to view the schedules for Planning Commission and Transportation Commission meetings. The commission meetings and County Board work sessions will be archived on the County website and available on-demand. To view the webcasts live, visit the County website and watch the Arlington TV Live webstream.

Open Government Program

The County's Open Government Program strives to achieve an open, accessible, efficient and transparent government. The Open Data Portal and pilot webcast program are the latest efforts in serving and engaging the public more effectively.  Earlier this year as part of the effort, the County launched its My Arlington app for mobile users and Arlington Today calendar. Read more here about Open Government.