Little Rock, Ark., Takes on Open Data

Government Technology: Melissa Bridges has had three careers with Little Rock, Ark. She worked in the mayor’s office in the late ’90s while finishing a master’s degree in public administration. Then, following a stint in the Peace Corps, she became network security manager in 2010, a role she held for six years. Most recently, the city named Bridges its performance and innovation coordinator, a new position she is excited to define. After participating in Bloomberg’s What Works Cities program, Little Rock has a new open data policy, an open data portal, and momentum toward improving internal efficiency with data while also building public-facing tools for engagement and transparency. In fact, one of Bridges’ early challenges has been to limit how much she tackles.

“All the other cities I’ve talked to doing similar work, the biggest lesson they’ve told me is ‘don’t bite off too much, because if you try to solve all the world’s problems, you’ll set yourself up for failure,’” Bridges said. “Just find one small thing to focus on and grow from there, and that’s the approach we’re taking.”

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