Analytics Ensure Safety in LA and White Plains


(Image: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

(Image: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

Security is top of mind when city CIOs think about the types of analytics they need. However, analytics is also enabling them to improve internal processes and the experience citizens and businesses have.

The City of White Plains , New York stores its data in a data center to ensure security. The City of Los Angeles has a hybrid implementation because it requires cloud-level scalability. In LA, 240 million records from 37 different departments are ingested every 24 hours just for cybersecurity purposes, according to the city's CIO Ted Ross.

"We didn't start off at that scale but [using the cloud] we're able to perform large amounts of data analysis whether it's cybersecurity or otherwise," Ross said.

He thinks it's extremely important that organizations understand their architecture, where the data is, and how data gets there and then put the appropriate security measures in place so they can leverage the benefits of the cloud without being susceptible to security risks.

"If you're not doing analytics and you're moving [to the cloud], it's easy to think it will change your world and in certain [regards] it may. The reality is, you have to go into it with both eyes open and understand what you're trying to accomplish and have realistic expectations about what you can pursue," said Ross.

White Plains is on a multi-year journey with its analytics, as are its peers because connecting the dots is a non-trivial undertaking.

"Municipalities have a lot of data, but they move slowly," said White Plains CIO Michael Coakley. "We have a lot of data and we are trying to get to some of the analytics [that make sense for a city]."

Departments within municipalities still tend to operate in silos. The challenge is eliminating those barriers so data can be used more effectively.

"It's getting better. It's something we've been working on the for the last few years which is knocking down the walls, breaking down the silos and being able to leverage the data," said Coakley. "It's for the betterment of citizens and businesses."

Connecting data from individual departments improves business process efficiencies and alleviates some of the frustrations citizens and businesses have had in the past.

"If you're a small business owner who bought a plot of land in White Plains and wants to [erect] a building, you could go to the department of Public Works to get a permit, the Building Department to get a permit and the Planning Department to get a permit and none of those departments know what you're talking about," said Coakley. "With the walls being broken down and each department being able to use the data, it makes the experience better for the business or home owner."

The city is also connecting some of its data sets with data sets of an authority that operates within the city, but is not actually part of the city.

"There's a reason for their autonomy, but it's important to start the dialog and show them [how connecting the data sets] will benefit them," said Coakley. "Once you show the department what they can provide for you, and ensure it's not going to compromise the integrity of their data, they usually come along. They see the efficiencies it creates and the opportunities it creates."

In those discussions, it becomes more obvious what kind of data can be generated when the data sets are used and shared and what kind of analytics can be done. The interconnection of the data sets creates the opportunity to get insights that were not previously possible or practical when the data generated in a department stayed in that department.

White Plains is trying to connect data from all of its departments so it can facilitate more types of analytics and further improve the services it provides citizens and businesses. However, cybersecurity analytics remain at the top of the list.

"Cybersecurity is number one," said Coakley. "We have to worry about things like public safety, which is not just police, fire, emergency, public works, facilities, water, electrical, and engineering. There's a lot of data and the potential for a lot of threats.

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Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer

Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include big data, mobility, enterprise software, the cloud, software development, and emerging cultural issues affecting the C-suite.

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Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/31/2017 9:49:50 PM
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I agree. Security is surly something they are touting when making the Sales pitch.
And as you say, key to their very survival.    Nice point Tom.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/31/2017 9:35:24 PM
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Ithink it is just a metter if their own survival.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/31/2017 9:27:51 PM
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@tomsg    No argument here.  Cloud vendors are probably the best bet to ensure some standard of security in most cases.

Re: City Governments Need Better Transparency
  • 5/31/2017 9:25:44 PM
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Wow, thanks for the insight Broadway. Your story does illuminate what I suspected for years. The City of Los Angeles does very little for the residents outside of collecting parking and DMV fees.

We have had Leaders of departments ( the Sherifs Department comes to mind ) that are doing prision time for their decisions.   One never gets the feeling that the city government is doing anything constructive and it shows by the daily chaos that is Los Angeles.

Not to do anything to somewhat mitigate the damage a major quake will cause is equivelent to "civil malpractice". The people entrusted to serve the public with respect to this and other issues are being paid very well for doing basically nothing but showing up each day.

Thanks for the information, I will be chewing on this for some time.

Good to see you back on the boards old friend.

Re: City Governments Need Better Transparency
  • 5/30/2017 10:53:26 PM
NO RATINGS

louis, here's a somewhat unrelated but potentially illuminating story about LA. Years ago, I was a journalist doing a story about how the City of Angels managed its earthquake risk (which it has quite a bit of). For the most part, the city's risk management policy was the "Air Force One" insurance policy, meaning they didn't attempt at all for the most part to finance the risk; they were counting on the feds to swoop in after any big disaster and lavish relief and recover funds. I'm hoping the city's approach has matured since then, but that certainly gives a little insight into the motivations of certain governments.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/30/2017 8:28:10 PM
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Since their entire buiness depends on security and trust, The cloud companies are very likely to have the best in security.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/30/2017 6:58:24 PM
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@rbaz  @tomsg     I couldn't agree more.  Management and proactive monitoring are keys to security and even then something can slip through before one has even learned of a new threat.

If companies think they are in the clear regarding security just because they have outsourced it, then they are in for a rude awakening.   All they have really done is to spread some liability to their Cloud Provider.  And if you don't read the fine print of the agreement even that might be at question.

So in the case of a breech, the company and the cloud provider most probably will still be exposed to a lawsuit.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/30/2017 6:48:26 PM
NO RATINGS

@rbaz   I agree.  The infrastructure for the Cloud is not much different from holding data internally, except that it does  not reside locally.   It is certainly not inherently secure, that surly sounds like marketing gibberish.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/30/2017 6:44:31 PM
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@tomsg    That is a good question, something I am researching at moment.   The cost/benefits of hosting data internally versus outsourcing it.  And so far it appears to depend on one's options because if one chooses the wrong vendor than it might cost more than handling your data on your own.

 

When it comes to security, I tend to believe security is enhanced if you leave it to others, however it depends on their skill set and dilgence as well. If those who manage security are not through then that could have been accomplished without outside assistance.

Re: City Services, Silos and Accountability
  • 5/30/2017 6:35:55 PM
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@Lisa    Good point.  It just seems like city agencies are extremely bad at sharing information but this "protectionism"  is probably no worse than in any other segment of society.  

I guess what really bothers me is our tax paying dollars are supporting this kind of behavior on the state government level and we should expect more for our dollars.

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