Voices from Accenture Public Service


Queensland’s 77 councils range in size from Brisbane, one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest, to very small councils in remote locations. With different priorities and challenges, they may not, at face value, appear to have much in common. But they do: All can reap rewards by using data and analytics to think about and address their challenges in new ways.

To illustrate, let’s look at some work Accenture’s global cities team did in New York with the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA), focused on the challenges raised by subletting leading to more tenants inhabiting a building than officially permitted. In addition to serious safety risks, subletting makes it difficult to determine and allocate community services. Usually, building inspectors watch a building and count the number of people entering and leaving. New York did something very different. Collecting and analysing water consumption data and the amount of garbage from a building identified those most likely to have too many tenants. With these insights inspectors, could decide which buildings to target, enabling the city to maximise inspectors’ time.

It’s a great example of how data and analytics can help councils address their different challenges, supporting new ways to make decisions, plan, increase efficiency and engage citizens. It’s as relevant for booming growth corridors competing intensely to attract talent, families and employers as it is for larger cities with bustling CBDs or areas with declining populations.

Of course, there are variations in councils’ use of data and analytics today. Some have recruited data scientists and set up analytics platforms. Others are beginning to experiment with new types of data sources, like the Internet of Things. Many smaller authorities are just getting acquainted with how understanding data could help them.

It’s a real mixed bag of maturity, capabilities and challenges. Some councils need to learn the basics; others want to understand how to take their current capabilities to the next level.

So where should they start?

  • Understanding the importance of data is step one. Engage with other councils already using data and analytics to see where they are having success and lessons that could applied.
  • Step two is to get access to the right data and start finding insights from it. Identify an opportunity and work out the data that’s required to address it.
  • Third, it’s where the “rubber really hits the road.” That means operationalising insights in processes and policies and then measuring the outcomes achieved to refine, retune and drive continuous improvement.

While some implications of analytical insights will require major organisational change, many won’t. Councils need to find opportunities for quick wins that they can action fast, delivering great results for the community and helping to demonstrate the value of data-driven approaches.

In my next blog post, I’m going to look at a new analytics initiative that we’re working on with the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ). The first of its kind, it will give councils in Queensland a great new resource to help them become data driven. Stay tuned.

Please feel free to leave a comment or connect with at www.accenture.com/transformingAUcities

See this post on LinkedIn: Analytics is a game changer, from the CBD to the Hinterland to the Outback

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