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Local Government Data-Driven Decision-Making: 10 Ways To Modernize Data Collection

By Stephen Brandofino

In today's technologically driven world, data is a vital commodity. Not only does data give local governments insight into the communities that they serve, but it also can be used to measure the effectiveness of previously implemented strategies in order to develop new, more proficient strategies. Data puts the power back into local governments hands, allowing them to make informed decisions for the benefit of the municipalities in which they serve. 

Government agencies can find data analytics extremely useful in their everyday decision making. Decision making on behalf of constituents by local governments without their input can be not only overwhelming, but very problematic. With the help of data, these government entities can make more informed decisions on constituents' behalf, and create strategies that can best serve their communities. 

Read on to learn about the key ways to improve data-driven decision making and all the insights on why accurate data is vital to local governments.Get a GovPilot Demo

What is Data Driven Decision Making?

While data based decision making is a useful tool for government processes, the accuracy of the data they are gathering should not be understated. Although many people would believe data is uniform no matter what source it comes from, not all data is created equal. Without having the most accurate data possible, the decisions being made by local governments may be uninformed, and may not yield the most positive outcomes. 

The assembly of a cohesive data set, can allow for governments to set measurable goals and outcomes, and track the pace at which they can reach certain goals. Not only that, but having the most accurate government data possible can allow government entities to forecast future needs and potential issues. 

The 10 Best Practices To Improve Data-Driven Decision-Making In Your Local Government 

There are many key steps that local government municipalities can take in order to impact data-driven decision making. It is important for local governments to take these steps in order to create an environment where data is what drives decisions. Learning about these different steps can help local municipalities make the transition:

1. Establish a Data-Driven Culture 

The most important step to utilizing data to create strategies that can help government municipalities analyze and better understand their constituents, is to establish a data-driven culture and to move away from traditional strategies. Some steps that can be taken to better manufacture a data-driven environment include the factors listed below. 

Learn everything you need to know about Securely Storing Data In The Government Cloud. 

2. Top Down Commitment to Data Analytics 

Instilling a data-driven approach to making decisions will be received better by the governing body and the constituents who they represent, if leadership within municipalities commit to using data. Leadership can play a significant role in shifting to a more data-driven decision making approach by prioritizing data collection and analytic strategies. 

Check out this guide to become an expert at Local Government Data Analytics and foster this top-down data commitment in your municipality. 

3. Resource Allocation Through Data-Driven Methods 

The best way for a local government to show that they are committed to utilizing data analytics to make decisions, is to allocate resources to the effort. Creating a clear budget for the municipality to put towards data analytics tools, training, and stronger technology can help show constituents and members of the organization that a move toward using data to drive decisions is one that will help all parties involved. Furthermore, with the shift to a data driven organization, it is important to remember that using advanced forms of technology, may leave local governments susceptible to cyber attacks. 

Learn how to protect and Train Government Workers On Cyber Security here.

4. Define Clear Objectives 

Setting defined goals that your government organization wants to achieve can help in establishing a data driven culture. If municipalities are able to set clear goals, finding government data to support making decisions to get you to those goals will be much easier. 

It is important for municipalities to link the goals they want to achieve with data. The best way to measure the success of completing a goal, is to attach real, quantifiable data to those goals. 

    • For example, if a local municipalities Department of Transportation would like to analyze the traffic within an officer in order to decrease wait time and better serve their constituents, they could enlist the help of data analytics to do so. They could do things like forecast peak hours, better manage queues, and optimize certain processes, all with the help of data analytics. 

5. Invest in Technology and Infrastructure 

A key factor in creating an environment where data is used to drive decision making, is to take the time and money to invest in the proper technology and infrastructure. Since local governments are majority funded by their constituents tax dollars, it is important to get the general population on board with creating a budget for this type of software. 

Implementing a modern data management system can allow for local governments to get the most out of what they put in. Data management software allows for the most efficient data storage, retrieval, analysis, and sharing. Many of these programs utilize the cloud, a series of remote servers, that allow for usage anywhere where there is an internet connection, are safer than using an in house server, and come equipped with data back up abilities to protect from loss of key information. 

6. Make Data Analysis A Top Municipal Priority 

The most common issue when attempting to analyze data is being able to analyze large data sets in a timely fashion. Data collected by a local government, no matter the size of the municipality, can quickly build up into large, daunting sets. 

It is important to have certain analytical tools and technology in place to comb through this data, and extract the most valuable information. In today's modern age, local governments can employ the help of AI in data analysis

Learn more about the Best Automated Workflows for Government here. 

7. Collaborate and Share Data 

Fostering collaboration between different departments and agencies can help a lot in creating a comprehensive view of local issues and solutions. It is important for different agencies within a municipality to have access to the same data and to be able to share that data amongst each other. After gathering data from their constituents, it may be a good idea for this data to be uploaded to the “cloud” in order for it to be viewed by other agencies within a local government. Sharing data amongst different government departments can allow for a more holistic decision making process to take place.

Click here to learn more about how Local Governments Can and Should Use The Cloud. 

8. Foster Government Data Transparency 

With governments using data gathered from their constituents, it is important for them to be transparent with their findings. This will allow for citizens to have a better understanding of what the collected data is being used for, and will allow them to be more involved in the decision making process. 

This type of transparent atmosphere will create more informed citizens, who are more willing to get involved in civic issues, as they can see the data that is driving government decisions. Since hard copies of government records and findings may be hard to distribute amongst municipality populations, these entities should look to make these records digital and create an even more transparent environment. Transparency in government may even lead to re-election for local government officials

Utilize GovPilot's Constituent Engagement Software to ensure citizens are involved in their local politics. 

9. Data Analysis and Interpretation 

In order for municipalities to move to a data-driven decision making model, hiring and developing individuals with expertise in data analysis and interpretation as their dedicated roles is very beneficial. By dedicating a portion of the government budget to building a data analytics team, this team can play a key factor in making well-informed decisions. 

A common issue amongst the world of data analytics, is creating data visualizations that are easily understandable to government decision makers. While these officials are capable of making decisions within their respective fields, they may not possess the keen eye of a data analyst. 

    • GovTip: It is important for government officials to be able to understand the data they collect in order to create strategies that best serve their constituents. Tools like GIS maps make visualizing data simple and effective, and can be used to help make decisions on virtually any key issue. 

To learn more about how Municipalities Need To Use GIS Maps click here. 

10. Incorporate Public Feedback 

The most crucial part of moving to data-driven government processes is to get the community on board. It is important to engage with the community to gather their perspectives and feedback on data regarding local issues. Conducting meetings and even engaging constituents in a robust E-democracy between government leaders and their constituents can prove to be beneficial when making the switch to this new strategy. 

Learn how to Improve Local Public Meetings here. 

How To Improve Data Collection and Quality 

Ensuring quality data is being collected is paramount in local government data collection processes, here are some tips on improving data collection and quality:

  • Standardize Data Collection Processes 

The most difficult aspect of using data to drive decision making, is collecting correct and useful data. It is a known fact that not all data is created equal, and so it is important to make sure data collection is streamlined in order to ensure its consistency and accuracy throughout all systems. Perform regular checks and inspections of data collection methods, and utilize GovPilot’s software solutions to make the entire process more secure and transparent. 

  • Ensure Data Integrity 

In order to ensure data integrity, it is important to maintain the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of a data set throughout its cycle of use. There are many different ways to do this including: 

  • Using data validation rules in order to maintain integrity across numerous different databases and ensure the information is congruent across platforms
  • Implementing data-encryption software in order to protect secure government data from hacks and other types of tampering 
  • Performing regular data backups in order to prevent accidental deletion, data software failure, or data corruption. 

Learn more on how to Keeping Data Secure & Preventing Ransomware Attacks and creating a Government IT Disaster Recovery Plan for Municipal & County Governments here.

Prioritize Data Integrity and Harness Data for Informed Government Decision Making

It is imperative for local government officials to utilize government software like what is offered by GovPilot to harness valuable government data and insights to make informed decisions for constituents. Every municipality has the responsibility to undergo this digital transformation with the help of GovTech to make the best decisions possible for their constituents, starting with collecting data to understand the exact, specific needs of their community. 

Book a free demo today with GovPilot to learn how to improve data collection and government workflows with government management software. 

Data Collection FAQs

  • Why Should Governments Collect and Analyze Data? 

Local governments hold a responsibility to make informed, insightful decisions for the community they serve, and that includes utilizing data as a decision-making tool. Without accurate data, local governments cannot determine what improvements desperately need to be made by the local government to serve constituents. 

  • Why Is It Important Data Collection Yields Accurate Data? 

Ensuring data accuracy is vital for local government data analysis because the data clues local policy makers in on what they need to prioritize for upcoming decisions and local improvements. Inaccurate data serves no one, and makes it difficult to yield a true glimpse into what municipal service improvements constituents hope to see, or need, within your municipality. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Cybersecurity, Digital Transformation, GovTech, Disaster Recovery