5 Initiatives Making Charlotte a Smarter Community

Mar 17, 2016 | BLOG POST

In 2013, Charlotte, North Carolina, City Manager and ICMA member Ron Carlee had an idea that educating and making citizens “smarter” about their community would increase citizen engagement and make Charlotte a community of choice for living and working. Numerous initiatives evolved from this vision.

1. Open Data Portal

This project kicked off in 2014 when an internal team of staff members from the city’s GIS team and the business intelligence community began to implement a pilot portal based on Esri’s ArcGIS Open Data Technology.  With the technical assistance of Esri, this portal was quickly up and running. The Open Data Portal, called Open Charlotte, is the home to all the city’s spatial and non-spatial data. Citizens can view and download information on demographics, the environment, transportation, and more.

2. Open Data Policy

On January 1, 2015, Carlee signed the city’s Open Data Policy to achieve a number of objectives for transparency, civic engagement, and economic development. The policy outlines responsibilities city departments have to provide access to non-private, non-restricted data. The policy also addresses privacy and sensitive information. 

3. Citygram Application

Citygram translates complex data from the open data portal into an easily understandable format.  This application allows residents to sign up for notifications, via e-mail and/or text, that alert them when something is happening in their designated geographic area of interest.   For example, residents can subscribe to rezoning notifications within a ½-mile of their home address.

4. Code of Charlotte Brigade

The Code of Charlotte Brigade is a local group of 600+ individuals dedicated to establishing a more open government for residents. The city works closely with this group in the development of all open data initiatives. For example, the brigade helped develop the Citygram application.

5. Smart City Cabinet

In early 2015 the city also developed a Smart City Cabinet, sponsored by the city manager’s office, to achieve the benefits of using technology and data to deliver services and advance engagement with residents. The cabinet’s mission entails “proactively applying innovation, technology, and data to enhance, transform, and improve citizen services.”


This blog post was developed from a case study by Cory Fleming, Senior Technical Specialist, ICMA, with assistance by ICMA Strategic Partner Esri. Download this FREE case study to learn more about how Charlotte is Growing an Open, Smart City Ecosystem.   


Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Research and Content Development Associate 


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