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How Analytics Helps Minneapolis Make Smarter Daily Decisions

Data sharing and analysis platform gives employees access to data from across the city, along with new tools to crunch it.

Minneapolis wants to use data sharing and analytics to help city employees routinely make better decisions.

Last year, the city announced the launch of its Intelligent Operations Platform, which lets users access and analyze data from hundreds of city information systems.The project is intended to give city employees access to shared data from multiple departments and programs, along with sophisticated analysis tools that let them crunch that information in new and useful ways.

Several city departments already use the platform, and more are being added. “It’s meant to be distributed to all city departments,” said city CIO Otto Doll. “Part of it is we need to get data that’s valuable to folks in there, so that’s a process that we’re going through now.”

Users already can access data from many of the city’s 450 information systems, including crime data; 311 and 911 system information; permitting and licensing data; police precincts, fire districts and other boundary information; and data for roads, water systems and other infrastructure assets.

Collectively that information provides a window into the city’s past, present and future, and it can be used to make smarter choices for solving problems and allocating resources, Doll says. “It allows us to really get a good handle on the state of the city at any given moment.”

In an interview last week during Government Technology’s Minnesota Digital Government Summit, Doll talked about why Minneapolis deployed the Intelligent Operations Platform, how the city is developing analysis tools and how it's using the platform so far. 

A new tool for daily decision-making
One driver for deploying the Intelligent Operations Platform in Minneapolis was the need to share data from city information systems — along with appropriate county and state data — across city departments. The goal, says Doll, is to help city employees make better decisions at work every day.

Analytics that think like we do
Because the Intelligent Operations Platform contains information from multiple departments, the city is creating generic analytics that can be applied to a broad range of subject matter. These tools, Doll says, will mimic how humans make decisions. 

How analytics leads to better landlords
Minneapolis has used the Intelligent Operations Platform to understand the impact of new development, to plan for a growing population in the city’s downtown core and to study success factors for redeveloping vacant properties. Another task for the platform is spotting bad landlords, Doll says, so that city officials can work with them on meeting legal and regulatory requirements.