The city on Thursday launched an online dashboard it will update about ongoing city projects, including 2017 and 2022 bond construction projects, stormwater drainage projects, and streets and alley work.
The dashboards are a part of the city’s “Road to Progress” initiative, which includes pilot programs like the Talkin’ Broadway chatbot pilot under the city’s Smart Cities Roadmap and Smarter Together! initiative.
The city said it’s a move toward greater transparency, after business owners have expressed frustration at the city’s handling of construction projects affecting traffic in places like North St. Mary’s Street and Southtown.
The dashboards will be updated at least monthly or as needed, the city said.
One dashboard includes all 2017-2022 and 2022-2027 bond program projects, and a map of where they are located in the city. The other four dashboards provide charts and maps showing street, drainage, alley and sidewalk projects not funded by bonds, which can be filtered by type, phase, and status.
The bond and stormwater drainage dashboards are detailed, showing how much of those projects have been completed, what percentage of those projects are ongoing and in which phase, and budget information.
District 5 Councilwoman Terri Castillo said the dashboards are an initiative that provide more transparency to residents whose daily routine may be affected by these projects, but since the information is all digital, it leaves a chunk of San Antonians out.
“As always, there is a concern for communities that do not primarily rely on the internet as their primary source for up-to-date information. How do we ensure that folks impacted by the digital divide are as informed as folks who can access these dashboards?” she said Friday.
The city has been making efforts to address the digital divide for years, and San Antonio’s latest contract with AT&T will connect 28,000 locations across all 10 council districts to the internet, said Brian Dillard, the city’s chief innovation officer.
“We’re able to provide more accurate, up-to-date information for residents, but we need [them] to have access to broadband internet,” Dillard said.
The public works department first presented the idea of the dashboards to City Council in December, saying the website would offer real-time information about bonds and other construction projects as part of a way to keep people informed and help businesses affected.
Part of that plan included adding QR codes to signs at project sites to take people to the dashboards — which are now up at 2022 bond project sites.
“Communication is only part of the deal. The problem wasn’t that we didn’t have enough communication,” said Chad Carey, president of the North St. Mary’s Business Owners Association and the owner of Paper Tiger and Midnight Swim, among other businesses, adding he doesn’t feel the dashboards alone would help businesses affected by the construction.
“I’m not sure how it helps the business owner when the sidewalk in front of their shop is wrecked for an undetermined amount of time,” Carey said.
The Road to Progress website includes resources for business owners, like a construction toolkit and contacts.
The added dashboards enhance the way the city shares information about vital infrastructure and construction projects, said Razi Hosseini, director of the City of San Antonio Public Works Department.
“We are committed to continually improving this tool and welcome feedback from our residents and stakeholders. It is essential for us to meet the needs of our community through such innovative technologies,” he said.