Urenio Watch Watch: Publications on Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Data-driven dashboards for transparent and accountable decision-making

Ricardo Matheus, Marijn Janssen and Devender Maheshwari (2018) have recently published an article entitled “Data science empowering the public: Data-driven dashboards for transparent and accountable decision-making in smart cities” regarding the benefits of using data-driven dashboards for the governance of smart cities. According to their research, there are significant challenges that have to be considered when designing dashboards. They suggest a set of principles that can guide the design process in order to make the decision-making process more transparent and trustful.


  • Dashboards connect governments and the public.
  • Benefits of dashboards are not easily gained.
  • Principles for designing public sector dashboards are presented.
  • Dashboard should provide an overview and being able to show details at the same time.
  • Dashboards can result in more, but also in less transparency and trust.


Dashboards visualize a consolidated set data for a certain purpose which enables users to see what is happening and to initiate actions. Dashboards can be used by governments to support their decision-making and policy processes or to communicate and interact with the public. The objective of this paper is to understand and to support the design of dashboards for creating transparency and accountability.

Two smart city cases are investigated showing that dashboards can improve transparency and accountability, however, realizing these benefits was cumbersome and encountered various risks and challenges. Challenges include insufficient data quality, lack of understanding of data, poor analysis, wrong interpretation, confusion about the outcomes, and imposing a pre-defined view. These challenges can easily result in misconceptions, wrong decision-making, creating a blurred picture resulting in less transparency and accountability, and ultimately in even less trust in the government. Principles guiding the design of dashboards are presented. Dashboards need to be complemented by mechanisms supporting citizens’ engagement, data interpretation, governance and institutional arrangements.

Figure 1. Data cycle for dashboards. Source: Current paper.

This is an open access article.

  • Read the whole article here.