Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about mySidewalk. If you think of anything that’s not listed below, please email us at [email protected] and ask. We’re here—and happy—to help!


What exactly does mySidewalk do?
Originally established as MindMixer in 2010, mySidewalk's mission is to empower city leaders, analysts, innovators, and the public with the most complete, clear and real-time understanding of their community data so they can improve and innovate together. Our city intelligence tool makes powerful geospatial analytics simple and beautiful, which is why a growing number of communities across the country are using mySidewalk to track, analyze, and communicate progress on their goals and performance measures.

Simply said: mySidewalk helps communities use visualized data to innovate and improve.
 

What makes mySidewalk different?
mySidewalk has been recognized for its:

  • Ease of use
  • Pre-loaded and continuously refreshed data
  • Powerful geospatial analysis tools 
  • Purpose—our intelligence platform is built specifically for cities

What makes mySidewalk more valuable than any other business intelligence software or data analytics platform (besides its ease of use for all skill levels) is its ability to reference where—and why.

Our robust mapping capabilities are helping cities answer questions like “What neighborhoods have grown in the past 10 years?”, “Which are the most walkable?”, and “Who has access to healthy foods?” Using the powerful geospatial capabilities available in the application, your organization will be able to dive deeper and analyze all types of data at any level of geography. You can also  filter down data to pinpoint specific areas in the community, and answer questions like “What block groups are most at risk for fire?” or “Where are homes with inadequate plumbing?”

In 2017 mySidewalk was selected as a Government Experience Award winner—an award that recognizes organizations that have gone to the web and beyond to radically improve the experience of government and push the boundaries of how citizen services are delivered.

Who does mySidewalk work with?
mySidewalk is empowering 150 civic organizations to track, analyze, and communicate progress using quantitative and qualitative data. Our customers are all public sector organizations or private firms that contract with public sector organizations. They range from cities/counties/regional agencies (e.g. City of Fort Lauderdale, FL; Broward MPO; City of Fargo, ND) to single departments (e.g. Office of Performance Management for Kansas City, MO). mySidewalk enables all of these civic organizations to track key performance indicators, perform powerful geospatial analysis, and tell a story of progress and growth using data.

Note that most mySidewalk users are not data or GIS experts. The mySidewalk application is utilized by customers with a broad range of technical skill sets and management levels within each community. Our users include (but are not limited to) city managers, county administrators, senior planners, GIS analysts, community engagement specialists, neighborhood development directors, and even a few research interns. Since the mySidewalk platform has an intuitive, user-friendly interface, no GIS, data management, or website/graphic design experience is necessary to be a proficient user.

What kind of data comes with mySidewalk?
The mySidewalk platform includes more than 2,000 pre-loaded datasets aggregated by the following categories: economy, education, elections, health & wellness, housing, livability, population & demographics, public safety, technology, transportation, environment, time series, and citizen survey.

The pre-loaded data in mySidewalk can be viewed, benchmarked, and analyzed at the following geographic layers: nation, state, U.S. congressional district, metro and micropolitan area, metropolitan planning organization, county, state senate district, state house district, unified school district, county subdivision, place, city council district, zip code, neighborhood, census tract, and census block group. Pre-loaded data can also be apportioned on-the-fly to custom areas that can easily be drawn in mySidewalk, including: boxes, radii, polygons, lines, and multi-selected geographic areas to form a new shape. Buffers can also be created around each of these shapes.

See the full mySidewalk dataset library here.  

Can I upload my organization’s data into mySidewalk?
Yes! mySidewalk customers can upload their own georeferenced datasets into mySidewalk using points, lines, polygons, .csv files—and a host of other formats. The mySidewalk team can also schedule file transfers with the customer and use API connections to integrate data source systems. The georeferenced data provided by the customer can be aggregated and viewed to the aforementioned geographic layers. Don't have georeferenced data? We can help you with that too—it just requires a little more advanced data integration on our end. 

I am working with a very specific geography—can I visualize that in mySidewalk?

You have three options to visualize and apportion data to this layer in mySidewalk.

  • Upload a Layer: You can upload this layer into the mySidewalk application. Files must be smaller than 50MB and one of the following types: .json, .zip, .kml, .gml, .mdb, .sqlite, .csv.
  • Draw a Layer: Create a custom layer by drawing a polygon, line, or bounding box; or by selecting a group of geographies already in mySidewalk (e.g. block groups, tracts, geopolitical districts, etc.). Note that you can add a buffer to any drawn layer.
  • Request Assistance: Upload your file and we’ll do the work of geo-coding address-level data; enriching your boundaries with mySidewalk-provided data; aggregating points within a boundary and more. On average, most data can be processed within 24–48 hours.

We know that working with geographies specific to your work is important—so our team will do whatever we can to help make that easier.

How often does mySidewalk update data?
Pre-loaded data in mySidewalk is updated when the source of the dataset releases new data. For example, American Community Survey data for the U.S. Census Bureau is updated in the mySidewalk platform upon its release each year. Customer provided georeferenced data can also be updated automatically based on the frequency in which the Customer wants to view the data.

How hard is mySidewalk to use?
Everyone can use mySidewalk. Our tool is built for all skill levels. No GIS, website design, graphic design, or data science expertise is needed to be successful in mySidewalk.

What type of Customer Support does mySidewalk offer?
mySidewalk's team of in-house data scientists, economists, developers, and GIS experts will be with you every step of the way to ensure success—and do a lot of the heavy-lifting for you. We offer on-site onboarding, 90-day advanced data dashboards, pre-built and research-based report templates, workshops, the opportunity to connect with peer cities, and continuous customer support (including data integration) throughout the length of your contract.

Where do I start? I’m not sure I’m ready for a tool like mySidewalk.
We work with cities who are at various stages of working with their data. Whether you’re in the process of figuring out what metrics to track, how to track those metrics, how to visualize that information, or how to share insight with stakeholders, we can help.

How long does it take to set up mySidewalk?
Our onboarding process takes about one phone call and our advanced data dashboards take anywhere from 2 weeks to 90 days to complete (depending on the state of your data and the readiness of your organization). If you’re unsure where to get started, we also offer on-site half day workshops. Our team will work closely with you to map out a project plan that aligns with the needs of your organization.

How much does mySidewalk cost?
We have two levels of pricing available for mySidewalk: Enterprise access and/or advanced data dashboards. In some instances, we may also offer departmental pricing—depending on your needs. Know that we like to fully understand the scope of your work before we put a number on it. To request pricing for your organization, please email [email protected].

Who is seeing success using mySidewalk?
We work with 150 civic organizations across the country to track and measure performance metrics, analyze key datasets, and communicate progress on community-wide performance initiatives using community data.  

Here are a few recent success stories:

Can I export and download data from mySidewalk?
All of the data uploaded or accessed in mySidewalk can be exported as .csv files from a report, dashboard, map, visualization, or individually as a data set. Additionally, reports and dashboards can be printed as .pdf files. All of the visualizations created in mySidewalk can be exported as .svg, .png, or .csv files.

What types of data filters and drill-down functions does mySidewalk offer?
mySidewalk enables users to perform geospatial analysis and map data to a range of geographies. Pre-loaded data can be viewed and analyzed at the following geographic layers: nation, state, US congressional district, metro and micropolitan area, metropolitan planning organization, county, state senate district, state house district, unified school district, county subdivision, place, city council district, zip code, neighborhood, census tract, census block group.

Pre-loaded data can also be apportioned on-the-fly to custom areas that can easily be drawn in mySidewalk, including: boxes, radii, polygons, lines, and multi-selected geographic areas to form a new shape. Buffers can also be created around each of these shapes. Customers can upload their own georeferenced data sets including points, lines, and polygons. mySidewalk can also schedule file transfers and use API connections to integrate data source systems. The georeferenced data provided by the customer can be aggregated and viewed to the aforementioned geographic layers. Filters can be applied to mapped datasets to pinpoint specific areas in need or to help target resource allocation efforts.

How can mySidewalk track performance measures?
The mySidewalk application makes it simple to track key indicators selected by your organization over time. mySidewalk includes time series data and graphical representations to visualize the progress already made. This could include uploading time series data from your community or taking advantage of the time series information already in the platform. Also, with mySidewalk’s goal trackers and call-out boxes, your organization can instantly share progress. Our team will work with your staff to perform updates regularly with your data—streamlining the way you monitor and share progress.

What kinds of data visualizations does mySidewalk offer?
The mySidewalk platform makes it easy to create interactive data visualizations that can be instantly applied to a report, dashboard, or geography of interest. Users have the freedom to choose how their data is visualized in their dashboard (or on a report) to make it relevant for any audience. Graphics can be customized to match specific brand colors, reworded to be more user-friendly, and positioned alongside content to introduce the data. Images, text, customer imported documents and/or imported maps can also be added to any mySidewalk report or dashboard. The types of charts and graphs created can include locally uploaded data and can be blended with data already available in the application. Users can also run correlations between between datasets, analyze growth using trends and projections, and benchmark places.

What types of data sharing does mySidewalk offer?
mySidewalk offers two ways to create and share dynamic, data-driven analysis and content—data reports and data dashboards. Note that no web design, graphic design, or GIS expertise is required to create either. Because the mySidewalk platform comes pre-loaded with data, getting started is as easy as logging in. Once a City admin—or any designated staff—are signed in to mySidewalk, they can select “New” from the menu, and then “Report” or “Dashboard”.

mySidewalk Reports
Reports are typically created to address one topic or initiative in a community. They can be used to answer specific questions like “Where are there vulnerable populations living in my city?” or “Where should we build more affordable housing?” Users can build their own reports or work from the Template Library, which houses dozens of pre-built, research based reports. These reports can be shared internally or externally. Interactive callouts, tables, bar charts, pie charts, time series graphs, scatter plot correlations, goal trackers, and maps can all be added easily to any report.

mySidewalk Dashboards
mySidewalk’s data dashboards are fully functional web experiences and are used to outline a comprehensive analysis and story that aligns (and measures) the work happening across the community. Dashboards can also be shared internally or externally. Interactive callouts, tables, bar charts, pie charts, time series graphs, scatter plot correlations, goal trackers, and maps can all be added easily to any dashboard. Here is a sample of a mySidewalk dashboard.

All reports and dashboards can be shared internally or externally with the public—no sign is required for shared reports and dashboards. However, admins can choose to password protect their reports and dashboards to share items with select audiences.

What types of advanced, custom built dashboards does mySidewalk offer?
mySidewalk's Advanced Data Dashboards are created by the mySidewalk team in conjunction with your organization's priorities. Advanced Data Dashboards range in pricing and typically take 30-90 days for mySidewalk staff to build, deliver, and launch (after data integration).

Advanced data dashboards include unique analysis, custom visuals, and robust reporting—all built by our data scientists and subject matter experts. Upon completion, these dashboards can be updated and modified simply by your organization at any time (with enterprise access) using the mySidewalk application with enterprise access. These dashboards can be shared internally (password protected) or publicly.

Today, we offer the following advanced data dashboards:

  • 311 Performance Dashboard
  • City Insights Dashboard
  • Resident Survey Satisfaction Dashboard
  • Economic Development Dashboard
  • Economic Development District Dashboard
  • Downtown District Dashboard
  • Fire Performance Dashboard
  • Police Performance Dashboard

Note that we are able to create completely customized advanced data dashboards for your organization depending on your needs. Email [email protected] to learn more.