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Imagine Boston 2030: Using R-Shiny to keep ourselves accountable and empower the public
March 4, 2018
The Imagine Boston 2030 plan was released in July 2017 as the City of Boston’s first long-term plan in 50 years. After hearing from more than 15,000 residents, five major goals were outlined in the plan - (1) encourage affordability, reduce displacement, and improve quality of life, (2) increase access to opportunity, (3) drive inclusive economic growth, (4) promote a healthy environment and prepare for climate change, and (5) invest in open space, arts & culture, transportation, and infrastructure - each of which are tracked through a series of different metrics. Using R-Shiny, we developed a public-facing dashboard that interactively displays data associated with each of the goals and metrics allowing users to quickly gain an understanding of how close we are to achieving the goals laid out in the plan. By publicly displaying the data, the dashboard helps the City keep itself accountable and empowers the public to make sure we’re actively working towards creating the Boston they want to see.
The code behind the dashboard has gone through a series of revisions and in the process has gone from being a few large files to modularized and reusable. In addition to showcasing the dashboard, this talk will tell the story of why the dashboard was built using R-Shiny and how we took our code from something that “just works” to developing reusable components that are being implemented in other dashboards the City is creating.
Kayla Patel analyzes data to help departments within the City of Boston solve problems and make informed decisions. One aspect of Kayla’s work is presenting data in a way that’s easily understood. For example, Kayla worked with Boston Fire to create a series of dashboards. These dashboards helped the department track vital information, like firefighter hours, sick time off, and swapped shifts. The City also uses data to keep the City safe. Through her work, Kayla helped policymakers better understand the problem of human trafficking. She developed a dashboard that pulled information in from Backpage, Google, and, records from Boston Police. That dashboard gives the Mayor, cabinet chiefs, and police the ability to monitor activities in the Boston area. With the City relying more and more on data, Kayla is at the forefront of using it for problem solving. She and another team member, Alex Chen, are currently working on a way to use Waze data to help address traffic congestion.