Purpose of the Project
The Cityviz data portal directly enhances the accessibility of community data in a readily available and easily digestible format. Inquirers require sophisticated data and partners need data to drive evidence-based solutions. The level of sophistication expected from prospective investors/site selectors has increased and the COEDC is now able to compete with larger regions as the data portal provides open access to well-presented information. https://data.investkelowna.com/
Effectiveness / Meeting Objectives
Since the data portal launch on January 17, 2021, the website has had 1.2k unique views, with a 30% retention rate for returning users. Most users are in Canada (within the region and two primary target markets – Vancouver, Toronto), with the United States, and China as the other top user Countries. The data portal has streamlined internal processes by automating collection of data sets previously collected and tracked manually by staff. Automation has decreased potential for human error to skew data and automates the extrapolation of the data. Staff resources are now allocated to higher level tasks including analyzing and communicating the data to potential business investors.
Challenges & Changes made
As most Economic Development functions faced pandemic response pressures, starting this initiative in September 2020 and launching in January 2021 proved challenging for a number of reasons. As COEDC staff are limited (5 staff members) all hands were on deck to continue current service delivery, develop a COVID-19 response plan, and get the Cityviz data portal running to facilitate the demand for regional data.
Target Audience (demographics)
The data portal supports current businesses, site selectors, potential investors, the real estate and development community, local governments, stakeholders like post-secondary, business support organizations and non-profits, and potential users looking for district, city, or regional data sets to aid in business decision making. The accessibility of up-to-date informationoffers investors quick access to filterable data sets, offsetting the demand on COEDC staff resources, and providing on-demand information to foster business investment.
Another driving force behind the tool was the onset of COVID-19 and subsequent increased interest in our region for business investment, work life balance, and operating costs in the region are attractive compared to major centres globally. The need to conduct business virtually due to COVID-19 has also increased demand for online tools.
The strategy re-alignment recognizes that as the regional, national and global economic climate evolves, the question is raised as to what the community can do to capitalize on new economic opportunities, respond effectively to tumultuous impacts of COVID-19, and what larger challenges must be addressed to allow the region to recover stronger and meet its economic potential sustainably.
Providing updated, accurate and community-level data is central to economic development and is a best practice in all economic development functions. Sustainability flows through innovative and creative ways of packaging and providing data to stakeholders. Decision makers and potential investors rely on data for their
site selection process. Economic developers are then faced with the challenge on providing an attractive regional package within community budgets.