Analytics in Action: City of Dubuque Case Study

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 two, which highlights the City of Dubuque.

In today’s world, government is looking at new ways to quickly modernize and improve how they engage with citizens. This means everything from re-thinking on how benefits are dispersed, applied for and enrollment into government benefits. Fundamentally, analytics is changing the business of government, providing deeper context and insights to enrich government services. There are many different ways that analytics is impacting government, I came across a recent IBM report, which outlined 6 components of business analytics, and how they are important for government to understand. The report goes more in-depth, but below I’ve added in a quick synopsis of each, and some additional insights:

  • Business intelligence analytics: Helping decision makers easily receive access to information and improve reporting and analysis. Business intelligence works to provide information at the right time, to the right people. For instance, an emergency response team can benefit from a BI analytics by being provide real-time data on location of individuals, weather, facilities data, etc.
  • Performance management analytics: Helping managers define strategy and understand the workforce, and improve reporting and transparency. Organizations can track metrics, key performance indicators and various kinds of data to drive mission success.
  • Predictive analytics: Unlocking insights and discovering patterns from data, improving decision making and providing increased situational awareness to users. We’ve written about predictive analytics quite a bit for government, the common example is being at the crime before it happens.
  • Analytical decision management: Collecting and harnessing citizen data to improve services. Government is increasingly more on the web to provide services, and this means government is creating a lot more data. Analytics solutions can be used to help make sense of the data, and improve quality of services.
  • Risk management: Using data to assess risk and comply with regulations. Data can used to track and monitor risks, and know when a program is at risk of failing compliance or to track funding of grants.
  • Analytic applications: Department leaders often have access to a variety of dashboards to improve awareness and improve reporting. There are many kinds of dashboards or applications that can be built from analytics, and this information can be used to drive more insights and success. Imagine the ability to build a dashboard that tracks water levels and water supply across a community, indicating when a community might need to take action, like what happened in the City of Dubuque, Iowa.

Dubuque was looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease their water consumption. This came as no easy task for the City. “Without accurate information on resource distribution and consumption, and a way to enlist the help of its citizens, the City found it difficult to act on its commitment to sustainability and to alter citizen behavior,” the IBM report noted.

Integrating cloud technologies, the City deployed a solution for real-time sustainability monitoring. Through the cloud and analytics, the City could be provided a full view of energy management. “Monitoring water consumption every 15 minutes, the system securely transmitted that anonymous data along with information on weather, demographics and household characteristics to the cloud, where it was analyzed. The system also quickly and automatically notified households of potential leaks and anomalies—and provided citizens with a better understanding of consumption patterns,” according to the IBM report.

The pilot had great returns for the City, water utilization decreased by 89,090 gallons among 151 households, which is equal to a 6.6 reduction. The pilot also predicted that community wide, Dubuque could decrease water of 23,000 households by 64,944,218 gallons, and leak detection could increase by 8 percent citywide. Dubuque is a great case study of a local government leveraging analytics to improve the quality of services provided to citizens.

How to Replicate Dubuque, Iowa

Dubuque case study shows some great insights on how a city took a very specific problem, and leveraged analytics for a solution. But how can you replicate their success? In my opinion, it starts by asking the right questions. I’ve included a few below for you to consider:

  1. What problem are we trying to solve?
  2. What kind of data do we need access too?
  3. Who are the main stakeholders and how do we engage them?
  4. How are we going to track, assess and monitor progress?
  5. How should we engage citizens?
  6. Can we pilot a few programs and start small? What can we learn from starting small and building out?
  7. What does our workforce look like? Are we preparing the workforce for future needs?

These questions are just the start of your journey to adopt analytics. The agency of the future is grounded in data, and knowing how to leverage data in new and transformative ways will be essential to deliver improved services for government.

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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