Cincinnati Names New Director for Its Data Analytics Work

The city has selected Nicollette Staton, who has served as the interim chief performance officer and director of the Office of Performance and Data Analytics for Cincinnati since the role was vacated in February.

by / July 12, 2019

Cincinnati has named Nicollette Staton as its new chief performance officer and director of its Office of Performance and Data Analytics.

Staton has held that role on an interim basis since February, when Leigh Tami — a founding member of the data analytics program there — departed to take a similar position with the New York City Parks and Recreation Department. Staton’s new role will become official on Monday, she said during a recent phone conversation with Government Technology.

Staton also shared her plans for the role. Cincinnati's data and analytics work — specifically its prolific CincyInsights platform — has established it as a leader in the space for mid-sized cities. In talking to Staton, one gets the sense that data analytics work in the city is valued throughout the operation there, making internal buy-in much less of an obstacle for her and her team of five than it is in many other cities.

In fact, the data analytics work done by the local government there has earned fans outside of City Hall, with nonprofit organizations and other community groups, including local hospitals, often reaching out for consulting, simply to see if they can learn from the team. 

“We’re now starting to see the local community in areas that aren’t around government come to us.”

Work is also underway to expand Cincinnati’s heroin overdose tracker to include county and regional data. Past that, Staton said one of her chief priorities is to continue to develop the data analytics office’s partnerships, not just with other city agencies — from the health department to the police — but also with those outside groups as well.

There are also partnerships being forged that will benefit the office, specifically one with the national group What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies organization that helps cities develop their use of data-driven governance and related tools. Cincinnati, for example, is currently participating in a data-driven economic mobility initiative coordinated in part by that group.    

Another main goal for the office moving forward is articulating the story of the data analytics work being done there more efficiently. While Staton and others in the city are pleased that their partners are well aware of the work, they also want to reach local press, citizens and even others across the country. It is, in effect, Staton said, easy to meet with a department head and tell them about a project, but it’s a much bigger lift to disseminate what a project is and why it matters to the 300,000-plus residents of the city, let alone to the residents of the entire nation.

Part of accomplishing this is likely to involve CincyInsights, which at present has about 70 dashboards that all look pretty much the same, with varying information available on them. In the future, Staton said the office would like to start building out CincyInsights with more of a “narrative explanation.”

“We want people to be able to read all of it without calling us,” she said, “and we want to standardize it with transitions.”

Finally, they would also like to be able to better expand their innovation work. Currently, the office has the capacity to hold one or two big innovation events a year, with a broad focus on major local government obstacles like permitting or the development process. A more focused approach would expand the scope of innovation there.

Zack Quaintance Assistant News Editor

Zack Quaintance is the assistant news editor for Government Technology. His background includes writing for daily newspapers across the country and developing content for a software company in Austin, Texas. He is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached via email.

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