State, local governments build on analytics.usa.gov
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Jan 08, 2016
IT shops in Tennessee, Philadelphia and Boulder, Colo. are taking advantage of the open-source analytics.usa.gov dashboard, leveraging its tools for analytics to make data-driven decisions. Each team has provided tips to other organizations for smooth adoption in a recent 18F blog post.
Analytics.usa.gov was launched by 18F, the General Services Administration's Digital Analytics Program, the White House and the U.S. Digital Service last March, and the code for the website and data collection tools were made publically available on GitHub.
The city of Boulder uses a version of the dashboard as an internal stats page for content managers to track metrics like social media and search, giving them usage data for content-based decisions. Developers integrated the dashboard into the city’s custom content management system by putting the dashboard in PHP as a module specifically for Xpress, according to Ron Pringle, a senior PHP application programmer analyst for Boulder.
Lauren Ancona, senior data scientist at Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology, told 18F her city’s OIT department frequently uses the dashboard to find information on the city’s website content and in discussions about whether those sites should support legacy browsers and devices.
Ancona said adapting the front- and back-end pieces of analytics.usa.gov should be “straightforward” for a junior developer, and because the city already had a adjusting the dashboard’s appearance to match the department’s other work was easier.
Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation, meanwhile, was already building infographics, so it integrated analytics.usa.gov code to build intelligent graphs and run the reporter tool on the department’s existing server.
According to Cody Rockwood, a project manager in the department’s Information Systems Division, adopting the dashboard has enabled staff to better understand how users are interacting with the department and make data-driven decisions. “The benefits of this project have more than warranted spending the time implementing it,” Rockwood told 18F.
Since implementation, Rockwood said his team recognizes how modern technology can improve government and is anxious to expand the platform’s functionality through additional digital services.
Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.