Ramsey County's Winning Data Initiative

May 27, 2021 by Lily Rexing

Ramsey County's Winning Data Initiative

When government agencies proactively provide clear, accurate, and comprehensive data, they give residents and leaders the tools they need to make quick, data-driven decisions.

Throughout 2020, Ramsey County, Minnesota, focused on data strategies that help them respond to the COVID-19 health pandemic and support local residents and businesses. According to Open Data Portal Coordinator Kristine Grill, “Ramsey County’s Communications & Public Relations staff play a central role in sharing clear and easy-to-understand data for residents, leadership, and employees. Each of these groups needs timely and accurate information to help make meaningful decisions every day.”

Data Stories and Dashboards

Despite having a small team, Ramsey County produced more than twenty data information products in 2020, including purpose-built applications, reports, and dashboards that provide timely, accurate, and transparent information.

Following are just a few examples:

  • COVID-19 Situation Update: This dashboard provides cumulative, daily and weekly COVID-19 case information, including information on demographics and location.
  • Respite and Hotel Homeless Shelter Dashboard: This dashboard provides an overview of the support Ramsey County provided through additional shelter space and respite for adults experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Property Tax Extension Eligibility Map: This resource gives residents a visual tool to identify if they qualify for financial assistance in the form of a tax extension.
  • Justice System Collaboration & Response to COVID-19: This dashboard addresses the number of people booked into jail and detention centers, as well as the COVD-19 testing and case statistics at these facilities.
  • Social Vulnerability Map: This resource identifies areas with high social vulnerability as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This helps government officials predict and respond to external stresses that may disproportionately affect these areas.
  • Mobility Changes in Response to COVID-19: This dashboard tracks the effectiveness of social distancing in Ramsey County and the overall metropolitan area, helping inform policy decisions.

“In several cases, like the tax extension dashboard and the collaboration with our justice system partners, we were one of the first, if not the first, local governments to create interactive tools that report out on these very timely topics,” noted Grill.

Ramsey County earned the 2021 Tyler Excellence Award for this innovation. Both government agencies and residents will continue to benefit from this work, which also serves as an inspirational example of how data can be used to help guide individuals and organizations during times of turbulence.

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