Data is in. From open data projects to sophisticated real-time data programs, state and local agencies have more access to real-time and comprehensive data than ever, and they aren't letting it go to waste. That's not saying that using data effectively isn't difficult, however. Wading through and analyzing the mountains of data that governments have access to, as well as navigating the privacy and security landscapes that come along with it, are not easy. But a few states are using data is meaningful and sophisticated ways.
The Pew Charitable Trusts reviewed relevant laws, documents and policies in all 50 states to provide an overview of how data is being used across the country. In February, it published the results, “How States Use Data to Inform Decisions.”
Drawing on interviews with more than 350 state officials, the study highlights ways in which some government leaders have employed sophisticated data analytics:
1. Massachusetts Reduces Overdoses with Data
In Massachusetts, policymakers sought strategies to reduce deaths from drug overdoses. Findings from an analysis of data sets showed that illegally obtained drugs caused more deaths than prescribed opioid medications. In response, the state passed a law to address the opioid crisis’s contributing factors through treatment, education and prevention.
2. Missouri Algorithm Improves Public Health
Missouri applied an algorithm to claims information that factored in whether an individual frequently used emergency services and had a chronic health condition. Officials then enrolled these high-risk patients into “health homes” that assigned case workers to high-cost patients to help coordinate their care. The result was improved clinical outcomes.
3. Delaware Cuts State Vehicle Driving Time with GPS Data
Looking for ways to use the state’s vehicle fleet more efficiently, Delaware officials installed GPS devices that allowed for real-time monitoring of vehicle use and idle time. Between 2008 and 2012, analysis of the GPS data helped managers to better allocate vehicles across the state, saving $874,000 by reducing the miles driven and amount of fuel used.
4. District of Columbia Analyzes and Boosts Enrollment
The District of Columbia performed a randomized controlled trial to assess how to boost participation in its Summer Youth Employment Program. The trial revealed the effect of various strategies on program attendance and provided administrators with the necessary information to choose the most effective course of action.