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Transparency & Technology News

Posted on: August 2, 2022

City-Parish Receives National Award for Using Public Communication to Inspire Change and Build Trust

Baton Rouge, La. — Tuesday, August 2, 2022 — Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced today that the City-Parish Department of Information Services has received results for America’s fourth annual Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers. The award recognizes an individual or teams within municipal government who cultivate trust and collaboration between local government and residents through excellence in communications.

The City-Parish received the award for its Citizen Data Academy: On Demand, a video series designed to help empower residents with the tools and information to navigate and use the City-Parish’s extensive open data and analytics resources.

“My administration is committed to investing time and resources into our open-data policies and creating opportunities for us to leverage this data to better serve our community, which includes empowering our residents with the knowledge they need to navigate our comprehensive data assets,” said Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “Our Citizen Data Academy is a pivotal part of this work that furthers our vision of setting the example for the use of data, technology, and innovation in local government.” 

The video series has garnered thousands of unique views and builds on the department’s inaugural Citizen Data Academy — held during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — featuring monthly virtual live training sessions and topics for participants ranging from beginner to advanced levels.

The Department of Information Services recently launched its newest module, which focuses on the City-Parish’s Drainage and Flood Zones Map, and informs viewers on how to utilize its comprehensive look into flood zones and flood zone subtypes, streams, base flood elevation, and drainage information throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. 

The Citizen Data Academy: On Demand currently houses over 20 videos, and will continue to expand as the City-Parish’s open data platform grows. 

“Many cities across the country have made impressive progress in building open data platforms with valuable community information, but Baton Rouge’s innovative video series is unique in that it provides a critical link between open data and community engagement,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-founder of Results for America. “The project epitomizes what Sharman advocated for: using data and communication to make cities a better place to call home.”

The annual award is given in honor of Sharman Stein, the founding Director of Communications at What Works Cities — a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by Results for America that helps cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges. The City-Parish achieved What Works Cities’ Silver Certification in 2021 for its exceptional use of data. Stein devoted her career to advancing storytelling that drives positive change in local communities. She spent decades working as a journalist for newspapers across the country and later led communications for city agencies and nonprofits in New York City. At What Works Cities, she helped city leaders embrace data and evidence to make better decisions, and encouraged them to engage with residents to solve problems. Stein passed away from ovarian cancer in May 2018.

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