SimpliCity

by City of Asheville, NC (http://simplicity.ashevillenc.gov)

SimpliCity makes city data easy to find. SimpliCity’s tagline is “city data simplified” and provides easy access to city data through a single search bar. In the past, cities provided an overwhelming amount of information through dense and frustrating portals and PDFs. Powered by open data and developed with Lean Startup and usability principles, the focus of SimpliCity is to answer questions of interest in the simplest manner possible. Citizens can track crime and development near their home, and get answers to simple questions like “when is my recycling day?" City employees can quickly determine if an address falls within city limits before issuing a permit. Both the citizen and employee experience is designed to be quick, simple, self-service, and easy.

Why they won

In Asheville, North Carolina, finding information about an address - like whether it’s in the city limits, what services are available, or how you can report a problem - meant using complex online GIS tools that weren’t designed to easily answer such questions.

These complicated tools were the only ones available to residents and city employees.

Other basic questions - like the eternal “when is my recycling collected?” - didn’t even have an online service, and required calling a customer service center during office hours.

To fix this, Asheville built SimpliCity to give users the information and answers they need quickly and, well, simply.

As important as what was built, was how Asheville’s team built Simplicity. Led by Jonathan Feldman, Asheville’s CIO, the team used lean startup methods. They built a small, quick prototype that talked to the city’s ArcGIS ESRI server in about 90 days, then continually measured and learned with real users, constantly iterating and improving their service.

An open source project hosted on Github, SimpliCity can be used by other governments. In our judge’s opinions, SimpliCity is a stellar example of how even the smallest in-house teams can deliver great digital services.