Q&A with Data & Insights Division President, Franklin Williams

June 13, 2019 by Meredith Trimble

Q&A with Data & Insights Division President, Franklin Williams

What is the biggest data-related problem facing communities today? What does a community that is successfully using data look like? Find these answers and more in this interview with Tyler Technologies' President of Data & Insights, Franklin Williams.

What’s the biggest data-related problem facing communities today?

Franklin Williams, President, Data & Insights Division

Solving society’s most pressing problems requires coordination and collaboration across multiple different departments within and across government. For example, if you’re going to make a dent in homelessness, the opioid epidemic, recidivism, or any of the other pressing issues that today’s public servants face, you need a view that cuts across the departments that are working to combat those issues. The biggest problem we see is that data is trapped within silos and in systems that simply don’t communicate with each other. That means even if departments are coordinated, the data isn’t. Solving that problem typically requires resources – money and time – that are already stretched.

This is where a data solution that’s purpose-built for government really shines. We’re able to quickly deploy our solution and pull data from multiple disparate sources so that departments can drive better outcomes for residents through actionable insight. And this happens in weeks, as opposed to traditional data warehousing, which takes months, if not years, to get running.  

Our Open Data solution also helps government leaders engage residents by transparently sharing their data with the broader community. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen this push towards transparency lead to a much healthier, trusting relationship between government leaders and the constituents they serve.

Many Tyler clients were introduced to the Socrata Connected Government Cloud at Connect, our annual user conference. For clients who do not currently have D&I solutions, what are the first steps they can take to bring D&I’s benefits to their organizations?

Great question! Today, we have a number of turn-key solutions that integrate seamlessly with Tyler products. Munis, New World ERP, New World Public Safety, EnerGov, Incode, and Eden all have out-of-the-box solutions that help governments of all sizes inform and engage the public through Open Data and transparency.

We’re also partnering with each of Tyler’s divisions to plan and build the next phase of integrations, which focus on better leveraging data internally for enhanced operational insight and efficiency. We expect to have a lot more exciting news to share here towards the end of this year.

What does success look like for communities that are using data well?

Successful communities are connected communities. Their departments are connected with the data and insights they need to more effectively serve the public. They’re connected with their peers who are trying to tackle identical issues in other jurisdictions. Their leaders are connected with residents through a transparent, data-driven conversation that encourages accountability, and builds real trust in the community. When these pieces connect, communities thrive.

What role does Socrata play in creating Connected Communities?

Socrata plays an important role in delivering Tyler’s Connected Communities Vision. Data is at the heart of everything that government does. We believe that we can inspire and enable public servants to solve their communities’ most pressing problems by connecting that data and sharing insights within and across government. As we saw at Connect, data is the fuel for Connected Communities.

Do you have a favorite story of how Socrata has made a real difference in a community or agency?

Picking a favorite agency or community is like picking a favorite kid. It’s incredibly hard to do. That said, it’s hard to pick something more impactful than the work that many of our clients are doing to use data to fight the opioid epidemic. Connecticut and the work of our association partners, NLC and NACo, are great examples. I’m also a big fan of what Pennsylvania and Massachusetts  are doing with their Open Finance platforms. Massachusetts, in partnership with the local media, recently uncovered a scam in which certain state employees were making more money than the Governor! All because of the power of transparency and Open Data.

What do you love about Tyler clients?

The genuine passion to make a difference in their communities. It’s a passion that’s shared by all of us at D&I and Tyler, and it’s something that I’m continually inspired by every time I meet with our clients.

Sometimes open data and D&I solutions sound like things only big cities can afford to implement or benefit from. Are D&I solutions accessible to and important for smaller municipalities?

Those solutions are accessible, and they’re only going to become more accessible as we deepen our integration with Tyler’s solutions. Bringing the power of Socrata to more and more of these smaller municipalities is one of the things that I’ve been most excited about since becoming part of Tyler.

How is Tyler uniquely qualified to help communities solve problems using data?

We are the only people who are focused exclusively on the business of government. We understand the processes that drive government better than any company on the planet. With Socrata, we now have the data platform that can help connect leading governments with the data and insights they need, then drive significant improvements to their most pressing problems.

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