Data Strategy Guides City’s Transportation Department to Data and Analytics Maturity

AIM Consulting

Case Study: Data and Analytics

SITUATION & BUSINESS CHALLENGE

A large American city’s department of transportation was collecting and storing transportation-related data in silos across its organization for more than a decade, leveraging little value from the data. The data was a conglomeration of telemetry from sensors and other sources related to roads, traffic, construction, city planning, bicycling, police incidents, permits, and much more, in numerous formats and templates.

The organization lacked a cohesive data and analytics (D&A) platform and knew it needed to mature their capabilities if they wanted to deliver on a lofty set of goals, such as:

  • To be able to direct emergency response vehicles to their destinations faster by predicting traffic behavior more accurately
  • To treat data as an asset and sell it to businesses such as Uber and Lyft, who could in turn leverage it to provide enhanced services to their customers
  • To enable better communication with autonomous vehicles and certain vehicles from Audi, BMW and other auto companies.
  • To improve data efficiency in its own division and employ predictive analytics more systematically

As a first step, the department turned to a research initiative at a local university and designed a data platform to securely store transportation data from public and private providers. Microsoft supplied the cloud services to the university and learned of the transportation department’s need to integrate with it. Based on successful engagements with AIM Consulting’s D&A practice, Microsoft referred AIM to the department, and the resulting engagement started the department on the road to a much brighter D&A future.

SOLUTION

AIM deployed a D&A team to conduct a thorough analysis of the department’s data architecture and delivered comprehensive strategic roadmaps and additional targeted reports to align the organization toward common D&A goals.

The team first interviewed technical and non-technical personnel from five essential departments in the organization — master transportation, disaster and accidents, events planning, data technicians, and IT operations — to understand current processes, pain points, and the desired future vision. AIM Consulting next developed a current state assessment and presented its findings to key stakeholders. The detailed analysis included the following:

Current gaps and pain points leading to inefficiencies: The list was lengthy, including a lack of enterprise-wide data standards and governance, a non-standard data model, no clearly defined process to manage master & reference data, siloed data, a lack of data archival processes and security policies, and more.

Key elements for the future mature D&A state: Optimal goals for the department should include initiatives for robust data governance and data modeling policies, master and reference data and data quality, data integration and accessibility, and analytics and visualization measures.

Data industry trends and highlights: The department can mature their capabilities by researching and emphasizing a cloud-first mentality for its big data platform, machine learning, modern data visualization practices, and modern data privacy, security, and compliance measures.

In addition, AIM Consulting presented a highly detailed one-year tactical roadmap that, if enacted, would help to form the foundation of a mature D&A practice, including:

  • Establishing a data governance program
  • Creating a cloud-based big data lake and data warehouse
  • Developing robust business intelligence and analytics procedures
  • Building a downstream data access layer and predictive models
  • Constructing the right team members to deliver on this vision

AIM Consulting also presented a three-year strategic roadmap that built on these measures, emphasizing rigid data architecture practices, a more comprehensive data integration strategy, increased organizational effectiveness through metrics management, and the building of scalability and predictability into the analytics platform.

RESULTS

Through knowledge transfer and detailed documentation, the engagement planted the proper seeds in the organization to mature its D&A competency and attain its desired goals. As a government organization, the transportation department has challenges in approving budget swiftly for large, complicated projects, but it now has the information and planning it needs to pursue the necessary approvals.

The client was surprised and delighted at the depth of detail delivered by AIM Consulting’s data strategy and roadmaps, to the extent that the department director showcased the report as the standard that the department should imitate in the future.

As part of the engagement, some APIs needs were identified to integrate bicycle-sharing data and engineers from AIM’s Application Development expertise were brought in to help evolve the platform functionality.

At the end of the engagement, AIM Consulting’s Data & Analytics team started to deliver on the initiatives identified as quick wins in the one-year tactical roadmap, including standing up cloud-based data and analytics services.

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