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5 Ways to Make Analytics a Reality at Your Agency

Just like water, data flows from many different places and can be difficult to control. “Information is our generation’s next natural resource,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO. But using analytics to uncover, capture, and mind trends in information can help agencies lower costs, maximize limited resources, and improve overall operational efficiency. To help you understand how to leverage this natural resource, we have started a three part blog series. Below is part one, which helps you understand how to make analytics a reality at your agency.

Often we talk about the need for government to manage, collect and analyze the troves of data that has been created. Yet, before we can even start to explore those questions, it’s important to ask: how do we gain support from management and stakeholders? In many ways, the use of analytics signals a culture shift within the organization. To fully unlock the power of analytics, everyone on the entire team should be on board.

The case studies are clear, and show the value of the analytics. There are dozens of examples, but one of my favorites comes from the New York City Police Department. The New York Police Department is the largest municipal police force in the U.S. with a uniformed strength of approximately 34,500 officers. Responsible for ensuring the safety of the city’s over 8 million residents, the agency is constantly looking for ways to effectively utilize its human resources, information and law enforcement processes.

Good police work depends on good information. An effective police force relies on solid and timely information to prevent, respond to and prevent crime. The NYPD has been leading the charge in utilizing data-driven law enforcement tactics to produce dramatic reductions in crime incidence. In the last several years, the NYPD has been using advanced data storage technology, data analytics, GIS and visualization tools to innovate their law enforcement strategies and improve public safety.

The law enforcement system generates diverse streams of information on a crime from the point of detection, throughout the investigation up to and including the closure of the case. These streams of information are generated from the initial 911 call, the dispatch of police, ongoing reporting throughout investigation and various other perspectives of the incident. To see an entire crime story, detectives and investigators need a way to pull together information streams, which were previously stored in departmentalized silos. Learn more here: The Public Safety Journey into Analytics: NYPD Case Study.

This is one of many remarkable stories how analytics has transformed government. How can your agency be more like NYC? What are some steps to start the conversation at your agency? Below I have identified 5 starting points to lead analytics at your agency.

  1. Focus on Education and Training: One of the first things to do is become an expert within the analytics field. There are dozens of free reports, trainings, and opportunities to get smart quick on analytics. That’s just half the battle. When you’re going through training, always place your new mastery of analytics back into the context of your agency.
  2. Show the Business Value: Everything we do revolves around business value. If your organization has core metrics you are trying to achieve, or deliverables you must meet, show how analytics can help and exceed those goals.
  3. Start small and have clear outcomes: Analytics is a very broad subject, and there are multiple ways to use data to solve organizational issues. Start small and think about a few core projects to leverage analytics. Use these pilot programs as an incubator, and then scale out to larger initiatives.
  4. Get Your Data Right: Data obviously drives everything. Make sure you have reviewed governance strategies and know what kind of data you need access to in order to solve the problem you are working on. Often to get the right information, you’ll have to collaborate across your agency. It’s simple: you can go at it all alone. Solicit help from peers and others who are passionate about data and analytics, they can help you overcome common challenges and get desired outcomes.
  5. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: There are now literally thousands of agencies conducting analytics programs. By reaching out to your peers, they can provide you guidance and insights to help drive change. Also, be sure to share your success and lessons learned, this is valuable intel that can help your peers in government.

The future of government will be grounded in data. Everything that government does will require a thorough analysis of data to drive improved decisions. This means new core competencies for managers and employees will emerge. Now is the time for government innovators to educate and learn about the value of data, and use analytics as a means to drive innovations in the public sector.

Data as a Natural Resource Series

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The IBM Analytics Solution Center (ASC) is part of a network of global analytics centers that provides clients with the analytics expertise to help them solve their toughest business problems. Check out their Analytics to Outcomes group on GovLoop.

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Some government agencies actively avoid metrics and evaluations, including analytics, for fear that they will disrupt ongoing initiatives and the agendas of political appointees. I see no way to overcome this deliberate anti-progressivism.

Pat Fiorenza

Mary – that’s interesting to hear, we hear it all the time at GovLoop about starting small and scaling up. Good way to test out methods, and fight through any challenges before a full roll out.