The digital age has made an abundance of data available to “consumers” but it begs the question, “What information does it provide us?”
I recently sat through a presentation on Traffic Crash Results for a local government. As part of the presentation, there was a comparison of two neighboring communities, one with 22,600 crashes and the other with 22,100 (data). I didn’t know if the lower number was better, or not.
What was missing was the ability to put the numbers into context. How many residents did each local government serve? What was the number of lane miles or geographic square miles each had. And what was the cost associated with this segment of the public safety budget patrolling these assets (data).
The information that could be generated from this raw data could be quite useful. For instance:
- What is the ratio of crashes to citizens?
- What is the ratio of crashes to lane miles served?
- What is the cost per lane mile served, or per incident?
This type of information can then be used to help understand whether the utilization of resources is effective, and it allows for comparison against others including benchmarks. If the service delivery (in this case Public Safety) shows exceptional results, it should be bragged about.
If there is room for improvement, both data and information can be used to develop plans to foster the desired improvement. This is the concept Munetrix fosters in its solution to transparency – and we continue to look for and add relevant metrics that help provide information.
Everybody talks about making data driven decisions these days – but is it the data or the information data provides that gives us the tools to ask the right questions – and ultimately make intelligent decisions?