Recap: Challenge Your Community- Esri and GovLoop Meet Up

Do you know what your data is actually telling you? If so, how long does it take to understand it?

This was the topic of conversation at GovLoop and Esri’s Meet Up in Washington, DC last week- how to better understand your data to effectively engage your community and provide better services. Many organizations are using locational analytics and Esri’s ArcGIS platform to do this. Location analytics provides you with a visual representation of your data, so you are able to gain a deeper understanding of your customers (or citizens) via charts and graphs. This enables you to more easily identify patterns and find solutions as you have a holistic view of your data.

Nick Bowden, CEO, MindMixer

The featured speaker was Nick Bowden, CEO, MindMixer. MindMixer’s mission is quite simple: build better communities by involving people in things they care about. To do this, they help communities engage citizens where they are- online. According to Bowden, 65% of adults are on Facebook and 90% of households have a phone with texting capabilities, yet nearly 50% of adults have never attended a public meeting. For many adults, they are too busy or see it as too inconvenient to attend a public meeting that can last for hours. However, with the ability to engage online, they are much more likely to participate. Plus, communities are able to keep people engaged through alerts and notifications, rather than starting from scratch every time.

MindMixer works with over 400 communities and engages with over 800,000 citizens. Through their work, they’ve discovered that 95% of customers are defined by location based boundaries. Moreover, topics rooted in geography perform significantly better than topics rooted in interest. Lastly, people care about the things closest to them and that will have the more direct impact on their daily lives. This means they care most about their street and neighborhood and less about their city as a whole. MindMixer uses location analytics to see location patters. For example, the city of Los Angeles wanted its community to share the places they valued as having cultural or historical significance. Using MindMixer, they were able to survey people using an interactive map, so community members could pinpoint these significant places. Since it was visual, they could quickly identify the places that ranked the highest and find patterns.

Three secrets to creating compelling engagement:

  1. May seem obvious, must engagement has to be available online.
  2. Content Matters- There is a disconnect between what government wants to ask and what citizens want to be asked/answer
  3. Affirmation- You need to tell people they’ve been heard. People like feedback, updates and generally being acknowledged for their time. The more you can keep people in the loop, the better.

Location Analytics:

The second presentation featured two Esri speakers, Marcella Cavallaro Account Manager, Federal Intelligence Team and Mike Boyrski, Manager Location Analytics Sales Team. They discussed how to build upon your current business intelligence using location analytics to make better decisions within your agency. As Marcella noted, regardless of your organization, conducing analysis without looking at geography could leave you with incomplete results or an “analytic blind spot.” Implementing location analytics allows you to ask better questions to your community and customers. For example, instead of asking “what” you ask “where” such as:

  • How do my regions compare
  • Where are my critical issues
  • Where are the crimes occurring?
  • What do my customers look like?

Mike Boyrski finished the presentation by sharing some examples of government agencies using location analytics to better understand their data.

  1. SNAP program- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program wanted a better way to detect fraud, abuse or waste in the program. Using location analytics, they created a dashboard that shows distance traveled for snap users and shows EBT spends throughout areas. With the dashboard, analysts can easily see where people traveled and determine the “outliers” or people who traveled really far away to buy things. In addition, they can look at specific areas (color/shade) and points can be clustered by quantity, distance, and outside the norm. While the dashboard can not detect fraud, it can show potential fraud.
  2. Crime Analysis– This example could be any organization across the country. Data from their business intelligence system is represented on a map which makes it easier to see where crime is occurring and what type of crime it is. Analytics can drill down into specific areas and understand crime data by location and incident. This “geo-enriched” additional data was included from ArcGIS so they could also look at demographics.
  3. Resource Optimization– Did you know grasshoppers result in 1.5 billion damages and cost of controls each year? The USDA collects a lot of data about grasshoppers, and their infestation, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to understand their patterns by just looking at the information. However, through location analytics, analysts can see grasshopper infestation throughout an area and can drill down into the area to do more in-depth analysis. This means they can see how infestation passes throughout a state vs. the stage of a grasshopper. They can take data by region and compare it to survey results from farmers or people living in that area. This helps analysts determine why infestation is higher in some places than others so they can find solutions.

Location analytics can help bring your analysis to the next level. I encourage you to check out more information here- http://www.esri.com/software/location-analytics

Also be sure to check out our GIS Resources Hub on GovLoop for more helpful information.

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