Access To Information Is Important

The City of Keene IT department updates and installs new software in a rotating budget cycle.

There are a number of things going on now that makes this an opportune time to look at why City of Keene departmental software can’t search and collate information in a useful way.

Example one: After receiving the monthly M.A.R. report from chief Russo in March, I wondered if we could run multi-year graphs that would reveal trends in types of offenses in Keene. My thinking was that we should collect data that could help us direct social services in problem areas, thereby preventing future offenses and future police budget expenses. Chief Russo told me the software used at the KPD couldn’t do that.

Example two: A better data search system would speak to our problems with right to know laws, and the impression by the NH 8th District Superior Court, and the NH Supreme Court, that we don’t take RTK very seriously. The public has a right to know and we have an obligation to store that information in a form that is readily available to them. So says the court.

Example three: Let’s talk about the inadequacy of the search function on the City of Keene website. As a city councilor, I value that function in order to research issues as they come to us each week. There was a marked change for the worse about five years ago – when the site was “redone and improved”. Information that used to exist on our website is no longer readily available. I’m told now to ask the city clerk’s office and they’ll get it for me. I should say, that it might be there for me. I was told not too log ago that I had to file a RTK petition to get information. I just need this information to do my job as a city councilor. The public has a right to have this information, but is being denied that right.

In order to get a better handle on Keene’s social needs, Right To Know, and council research, we should investigate the data search and compilation capability of the city’s software packages, and train personnel to collect and compile the data that is everyone’s right to have.

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