Data-Smart City Solutions: In Boston, when an ambulance arrives at an address in under six minutes, when a resident’s call to 311 is answered in less than 30 seconds, or when a restaurant inspector finds a health code violation before anyone gets sick, there is one common thread — Boston’s Citywide Analytics Team. The team is on a mission to improve the way the City of Boston delivers services using the power of data. Now in its third year, the team has grown significantly, worked with nearly every department, and launched dozens of successful projects to improve life in the city.
Managing Boston effectively using data has been a central focus for Mayor Marty Walsh since he took office in January of 2014. He hired Jascha Franklin-Hodge as Chief Information Officer (CIO) in June of 2014 and formally announced the creation of the Citywide Analytics Team in his 2015 State of the City address. According to Matt Mayrl, former Deputy CIO and Director of the Citywide Analytics Team, the concept for the team “grew out of the mayor’s commitment to both get better data for him to make decisions, and the realization that he needed to start equipping the rest of the organization with data-driven, actionable information in order to realize the full range of organizational change he envisioned.” The team’s origins and growth hold lessons for other cities seeking to start their own analytics efforts.