The Australian government has launched its first database, the National Cities Performance Framework, to track the productivity and progress of its 21 largest cites. These cities will be evaluated based on performance in six key areas, including: infrastructure and investment, livability, sustainability, innovation and digital opportunities, planning and regulation, governance, jobs/skills, and housing. An open online dashboard will start by using collected data from the 2016 census. Public and private data sources will be added through annual updates as well.
Australia’s new framework evaluates performance in six core areas, but there are 46 secondary indicators, including housing affordability, access to green space and youth unemployment. The system shows the federal government’s commitment to open and accessible data. It will allow all levels of government, plus the private sector and the greater community, to better monitor and evaluate cities’ policies and investments. The system is favorable because it compiles consistent, reliable and comparable datasets in an easily accessible online format. It provides an easier way to find areas where cities are falling short and the best areas to target for investments.
Although one operational approach does not work for all cities, this framework will allow municipalities to see what works for each one and possibly borrow concepts. It will allow for better understanding of the opportunities and challenges in each individual city. For example, the data contained in the dashboard can help cities to devise strategies for attracting and retaining talent in addition to spurring economic growth. The slew of data available through the online platform will allow municipal leaders to devise comprehensive plans for implementing smart technologies and policies where they are most needed, rather than guessing or making random additions.
Australia’s federal government emphasizes that this system is not a report card or intended to call out one city as being better than another. Rather, it points out cities’ differences and facilitates solutions for serving the public.