NASCIO Midyear 2018: North Carolina Transforms Operations with Data Analytics Center
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) was tracking revenue and expenses manually on a spreadsheet, and it lacked visibility into its cash flow management.
With the power of a new North Carolina Government Data Analytics Center (GDAC), NCDOT established a Transportation Analytics Center to automate dashboards and data updates. It increased the accuracy of recording income and expenditures and improved financial forecasts, said North Carolina CIO Eric Boyette, speaking at the 2018 National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Midyear Conference in Baltimore on Monday.
With visibility into its data, NCDOT was able to reprogram $267 million in short-term projects. With its new dashboard, the department can continuously track costs and proactively monitor its spending.
In 2014, North Carolina’s legislature passed a law requiring the state’s agencies to make such use of the GDAC to transform their existing data assets into actionable information that could guide program investment decisions. Agencies now gain significantly better business intelligence, Boyette said.
Some agencies required convincing to participate, the CIO acknowledged, but his office encouraged buy-in by starting small and carefully explaining the benefits. With each agency, the CIO’s office established a program, defined business priorities and iteratively built analytics solutions. All agencies have legal authority to access the GDAC when required to run analyses and reports.
Working together, the agencies deal with the challenges presented by numerous complex data sources. Sometimes it’s difficult to assess all data required, and officials must protect the security and privacy of that data. But as the NCDOT experience demonstrates, creating a culture for data sharing and use opens up opportunities, Boyette said.
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Other Data Analysis Success Stories in North Carolina
NCDOT also analyzed freight vehicle counts and commodities to improve its freight planning. With its Transportation Analytics Center, NCDOT gained better data inputs for scoring freight projects. The department now has a single dashboard to show freight activity throughout the state, and it has an improved understanding of the types of commodities and their value.
The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) streamlined and automated responses to report requests through the state GDAC, saving the DMV time and resources. The GDAC also empowered the DMV to offer the renewal of drivers’ licenses online, driving down wait times at DMV facilities.
In the past few years, the state has come a long way, Boyette said. It has gained strong legal and data governance knowledge and centralized data sharing management. It has built communities of interest around specific topic and goals, growing new capabilities strategically after starting small.
Going forward, North Carolina is also exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) with private sector partners to see if the state can automate processing in areas such as call centers, Boyette said. Similarly, the state security operations center analyzes cyberattacks with AI assistance.
North Carolina also is exploring the use of sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), Boyette said. It already deploys sensors for real-time traffic information relays to improve traffic patterns, but Boyette is taking it slow.
“I’m very cautious about IoT,” he said. “We just started our efforts.”
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