Frank Bracco's Blog

Blog Post
Posted July 19, 2016

In June 2014 the City of Houston and CenterPoint agreed to switch traditional streetlights in the City of Houston to LED lights. Two years have passed since the agreement was signed, and Houstonians have begun to notice the new LED streetlights. Taxpayers are also seeing savings in the General Fund thanks to this conversion effort.

With approximately half of the streetlights replaced in the last two years, our team was curious what the savings impact had been to date. By our estimates, nearly $900,000 has been saved through the bill period ending June 7, 2016. While the agreement was signed in June 2014, the conversion did not start until January 2015 after all the needed approvals were gathered. The first LED lights appeared on the City’s light bill in March 2015. You can check out the savings over time in the chart below.

How do savings work? The City does not own the streetlights and does not incur the capital cost of replacing the lightbulbs; instead, this duty falls to CenterPoint. The City does, however, pay for most of the operational costs associated with street lighting. The money to pay the electricity bill for streetlights ultimately comes from the General Fund – which is the City’s main governmental fund and is funded by taxpayer dollars.

When traditional streetlights are switched out for LED lightbulbs the number of kilowatts per hour (KWH) consumed decreases substantially. Not pictured on the chart below, the City has also saved approximately 19 million KWHs in the 16 months since the first LED streetlights appeared on our bill. This decrease in KWHs leads to a decrease in the electricity bill for the City. When the conversion is fully completed, the City estimates it will save between $2.5 million to $3.0 million a year compared to traditional lightbulbs (depending upon the price of energy).

LED Savings as of June 07, 2016

Filed Under: LED, streetlights, cost savings
Blog Post
Posted June 22, 2016

At this year's City of Houston Hackathon, several of the City's IT professionals proposed an idea so meta that we couldn’t pass up: open data requests should be released as open data.

Previously, we implemented an "Ideas and Feedback" tab on the Open Data Portal to solicit feedback and requests from the civic innovation community. While these requests are helpful for the City to internally gauge what the community is interested in, they were not visible to the community as a whole.

Today, we are pleased to officially announce this meta idea of making these open data requests publicly visible is now meta reality! Users can see open data requests and their statuses in real time at In the future, we’ll review if there are opportunities to refine the page layout and the filters we have available on the HTML version of the dataset. If you have suggestions, please feel free to let us know.

Blog Post
Posted June 1, 2016

On the weekend of May 13-15, a crowd of local data nerds, coders, hackers, and generally civic minded residents gathered together at the Houston Technology Center to build cool things, share ideas, and above all, eat free food at the 4th Annual City of Houston Hackathon.

This 4th iteration of what is becoming a must attend event, featured over 200 attendees that worked diligently over the course of 24 hours fueled on coffee, civic responsibility and the aforementioned free food to build 15 very impressive applications.

You can read more about the four finalists by following the links below. Each winner will have the chance to present their project to Mayor Sylvester Turner.

  • Johns Beware - A project dedicated to ending sex trafficking by reducing demand, supporting law enforcement, and creating awareness.
  • District Finder API - This API allows other applications to find all sorts of political districts for a provided latitude and longitude.
  • Invoice Dashboard - Imagine you’re a vendor doing business with an organization that is based only in one city but has 22 AP groups.
  • Task Bounty - Service marketplace to empower and employ local citizens to address local municipal issues.

A huge thank you to all the sponsors and everyone that came to support the event at the Houston Technology Center! You can get the full list of shout-outs over on Sketch City's blog.

More information can be found about all of the projects at:

If you are interested in getting involved with Civic Technology or attending future hack nights, please reach out to our partners in these efforts: Sketch City.

Departments: Citywide
Blog Post
Posted May 9, 2016

This week marks the release of Mayor Turner’s proposed Annual Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2017. To assist end-users in their analysis of the proposed budget, the City provides detailed budgetary information in our online Budget Bootcamp tool at and also on the interim Open Data Portal at Both of these resources have been updated to include information for this upcoming year's proposed budget. The official proposed budget and past adopted budgets can also be found online at

Blog Post
Posted April 11, 2016

Sports are a world of measurement. Let’s take a sport like basketball. Suppose I tell you a player averages 15 points per game. Is that a good player? A bad player? A great player? A good coach would know that based on this limited information it would be impossible to answer that question with any certainty. Basketball is about more than just scoring. Players can block shots, rebound missed shots, steal the ball and assist others in scoring. So, now what if I told you the player averages 15 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals per game. Is that a good player? A bad player? A great player? A good coach would still realize that these statics only measure certain aspects of effectiveness. To truly assess this player you still need more information. How many shots did they take? How many minutes did they play? How many possessions did their team have during the game? A good coach wants to know how the player made use of their resources. The business of government is no exception. Performance measurement allows policymakers, managers, and citizens to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of government services.

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence has created this short video to help governments get focus on the substance of performance measurement. Check it out here:

Filed Under: performance management
Departments: Citywide


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