How Minneapolis is taking the guesswork out of running a city

Fri, 2014-05-30 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk


Minneapolis is on a mission. Officials in Minnesota's largest city are tracking more than 1,250 metrics and key performance indicators. The reason? To make sure the city is keeping pace with its goals and the expectations of its citizens.

From repairing potholes on city streets, to improving transit systems, expediting snow removal, or ensuring a safer city, Minneapolis is leveraging data and analytics to improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of its operations.

"We’re focused on turning data into better decisions,” says Otto Doll, the Minneapolis CIO. “To do this, we’re relying on analytics that can give us a better view into the city – past, present and future."

Minneapolis is using IBM Intelligent Operations software delivered over the cloud to provide city employees and decisions makers with a set of analytics tools that give them insights across city departments and functions. For example, the same core analytics tools used to look for hot spots of criminal activity can be reused to spot flu outbreaks or vacant properties that may indicate economic development challenges in a particular area of the city. With the ability to visualize city data both geospatially and graphically on a map, it is now possible to understand thousands of events in the city and correlate how they interact.

For crime-fighting, Minneapolis is using technology from Council Global Partner IBM to track crime patterns over time and drill down into the data to look for the root cause. This helps police officials create more effective policing strategies based on what the data says about what's effective and what's not. For instance, do more patrol officers on foot deter crime more effectively than officers in a squad car in the same area.

As CIO Doll puts it: “By using analytics that can run advanced “what-if” scenarios built on evidence, we’re taking a lot of the guess work out of running a city. We’re also putting the power of analytics into the hands of more city employees and in doing so, delivering high integrity information that will help enhance decision making across the city.” 

Read more about Minneapolis becoming a data-driven city in a blog post by Doll.

Minneapolis certainly isn't alone in its mission to use data and analytics to improve its operations.

Using IOC to manage disasters in the Philippines

After Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines in 2013, IBM donated an Impact Grant of technology and services to the Philippine government. As part of the grant, an IBM Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) with an Integrated Communications System (ICS) was set up in Quezon City to provide a central point of command for disaster management.

The integrated solution will pull data from disparate sources into a common view, providing emergency managers with critical information such as:

    • Advance warning for extreme weather events
    • Feedback from first responders on the number of casualties and affected families
    • Condition of buildings, roads and infrastructure

The idea is these distributed data sources will provide analytics and scenario planning to streamline and integrate the government's response to disasters.

IOC improves water management and mobility in French city

In Montpellier, the fastest growing city in France, IBM Intelligent Operations delivered via the cloud serves as the foundation for the city’s effort to improve water management, mobility and emergency management. This capability aggregates Montpellier’s data sources and provides city leaders the ability to analyze the data in detail. It also allows new insight to be shared across multiple parts of the city, universities and with partner organizations delivering services to the region.

Montpellier is also creating a living laboratory for open innovation in cooperation with local universities to encourage development of new technology, urban innovations, new start-up organizations and the exploration of new economic models. These efforts, according to IBM, have already resulted in a 10% improvement in water yield. Future goals are to reduce flooding by 20% and automobile traffic by 10%.

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