The state collects a tremendous amount of data every day, from transactions between state agencies and the public, to traffic counts, to the number and type of services provided to Hawaii residents. Recently, the state has made significant progress on taking this data and packaging it to document the performance of state government on a range of fronts.
As noted in an opinion column, The Open Data Movement Is Growing, by THG Executive Director Christine Sakuda published in Honolulu Civil Beat, several state departments have made good use of their data, packaging it and providing it to inform and educate the public.
The state administration provides the public with a view on how the state measures its own progress through a variety of websites. The State of Hawaii Open Government Dashboard (dashboards are infographics displaying data in an easily understandable format) Open Performance Hawaii, is a resource created to further transparency and accountability through governance. Data sets that feed Open Performance Hawaii are found on the site under Data.Hawaii.Gov. Some are as old as 2013, while others are from 2017. The age of the data varies from category to category. The datasets can be accessed by the public to create programs and reports but are less useful as they age.
The state’s Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard site provides data on six interconnected statewide sustainability goals with an achievement date of 2030. The dashboards presented here fall into the categories of Clean Energy, Local Food Production, Natural Resource Management, Solid Waste Reduction, Smart Sustainable Communities and Green Workforce & Education. These dashboards cover a range of years from 2013 to 2016 and, in some cases, 2017. Some give the public valuable benchmarks on a range of critical issues.
It should be noted the older the data, the less relevant and useful it is. And it’s disheartening to see the location for local food production provides no data at all. To perform their intended function, this data needs to be kept up to date.
Unfortunately, the State of Hawaii Dashboard and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Dashboard are only current up to 2013 for most of the categories presented. Significantly, the dashboards provide a transparent view of the situation, good or bad. Clearly showing the areas where improvement is needed exemplifies how open data can help guide decision makers and inform the way funding and other resources are allocated. But to be truly effective guides, dashboards need to be kept up to date.
Moreover, when we see a dashboard, such as Increase Government Accountability and Transparency, which did not meet the target established, we are left wondering if any remedial action is being taken. We would like to see this valuable tool updated and additional information provided to show what is being done to achieve the agreed upon goals and objectives. Unless the government consistently values data as a decision-making tool for all departments, the possible efficiencies and benefits will never be fully realized.
At THG we are committed to information-driven policy. These dashboards are the public view of what state government is accomplishing. We hope those who manage the State of Hawaii and OHA dashboards will move quickly to ensure the public and our elected officials have a current view of where we stand on the many challenges faced by the state.