City's Data Hub Serves All Stakeholders
July 20, 2020 by
Transparency and accountability are common in strategic plans. Moving those goals into reality, however, requires that city staff can access, share, analyze, and publicly publish a city’s data. Otherwise, even the most well-intentioned strategic plans remain just words on paper.
As cities begin or expand data programs, a common difficulty is in the data inventory itself. What data does a city have? Who owns it? How is it updated? Is it accurate? Sarah Harris, senior performance analyst with the City of Memphis, Tennessee, faced similar hurdles.
“Teams were sending around spreadsheets, or only one person could access the data from the source system,” she noted.
An opportunity to improve the data program in Memphis was also noticed by Craig Hodge, director of the Memphis Office of Performance Management.
“Data-sharing is something we needed to catch up on,” he stated. “COVID-19 has enlightened that too — with new partnerships with the county and health department. We need to seamlessly share data with different jurisdictions on different platforms and data capabilities.”
A new, robust data platform that integrated with all source systems provided a simple way for leaders in Memphis to access and share data with stakeholders. What’s more, it moved the city past Excel tables and hardcopy reports to a true data analytics program.
Memphis Data Hub
The city’s new enterprise-wide, internal data-sharing platform helped shift Memphis to a digital, data-driven government. In fact, the successful shift in culture and technology earned the city a 2020 Tyler Excellence Award for innovation.
The new platform powers the city’s Data Hub, which launched in October 2019. The platform gives leaders the ability to:
- Centralize data so decision-makers and line-of-business users can quickly and easily access what they need
- Provide internal security and permissions to ensure the right people have access to the right data
- Automate data in near real time, so reports, KPIs, alerts, and decisions are based on facts
- Empower staff by arming them with visualization and mapping tools, contextualized reporting, KPI builders, and dashboards
Internal use is enhanced by the ability to automate data connections to different source systems, create an unlimited number of registered users, and restrict data to specified users or teams.
Divisions including the fire department, housing and community development, and human resources have already seen the value of data analytics in their operations. Building up internal data skills organization-wide is moving the city closer to reaching its strategic data goals.
Externally, the Data Hub gives the public 24/7 access to six main features: performance management, data stories, public safety, 311 calls, civic assets, and capital projects.
“This is really basic, but when someone has a question about wanting to see this data or that data, we now have a common place and an easy structure for them to look,” Hodge said. “When they find the data, they are able to manipulate it and extract it.”
The Memphis Data Hub gives 24/7 access to six main features: performance management, data stories, public safety, 311 calls, civic assets, and capital projects.
Three months after launching the Memphis Data Hub, the site had more than 15,600 users and 137,000 pageviews – an overwhelmingly positive response.
The ability to effectively harness and use data for community outreach, transparency, and decision-making is front of mind right now for all city leaders across the country. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this capacity has never been more crucial. The award-winning Memphis Data Hub with the resulting improved transparency and insight provides a valuable example for cities looking to create the same successful outcomes.