Business Analytics at the Utah Department of Transportation: Year in Review 2016-2017

Project Overview

In May of 2016, the Utah Department of Transportation began a multi-year project to improve upon its existing data analytics and business intelligence capabilities. To accomplish this, the Department engaged Grant Thornton to provide a cloud based business intelligence solution, provided by Socrata, and associated consulting services. At the one year mark of the project, this page will serve as a review of the year's accomplishments, discuss some of the outstanding items and talk about plans for the future. 

Key Accomplishments

  • June 2016: Prototype of the Regional Program Director Update (RPDU) using static data.
  • July 2017: Automated nightly updates to the RPDU
  • November 2017: Internal release of the Strategic Direction document including:
    • Establishment of performance metrics for each of the organization's key strategic objectives
    • Automated updates and drill down capabilities for several key underlying data sets
    • Implementation of capital budget and expenditure data within Socrata's financial modules.
  • January 2017: Public release of 2017 Strategic Direction document in support of State Legislative session
  • February 2017:  In preparation for April quarterly meetings, released RPDU v2 with several major enhancements
  • March 2017: Implementation of R server to support rapid automation of extract, transform and load (ETL) processes, complex calculations, and predictive / prescriptive analytics.
  • April 2017: Enhancements to the strategic direction document including the public release of crash data sets

Outstanding Items

Item #1: Replacement of Cognos
  • Dependent on upcoming enhancements within the platform (ex: subtotals, tabular data, joins)
  • Requires UDOT to identify the Cognos reports that are being utilized so that they can be recreated within Socrata.
  • Solution: Working closely as a design partner with Socrata, UDOT and Grant Thornton have articulated the platform enhancements required to move away from Cognos.  Socrata is working to implement those new capabilities within the system during the summer of 2017
Item #2: Pace of Solution Development
  • There is a strong desire by UDOT to move faster -- this means adding additional datasets, writing more stories, and implementing new features in order to maximize their investment in Grant Thornton / Socrata.
  • The speed at which these changes can be made is tied directly to the Grant Thornton resources available for implementation.  
  • Possible Solutions:
    • Continued adoption of R as a mechanism for speeding the integration of new data sets
    • Use of Grant Thornton bench resources to create a larger pool supporting each sprint cycle

What's Next? 

Support for Events: 
  • July '17: Additional RPDU enhancements in support of quarterly meetings
  • October '17: Annual conference
  • January '18: Legislative session
  • April '18: STIP workshop
Integration of Additional Data Sets: 
  • Automate Bridge / Structure Inventory
  • Integrate Pavements
  • Sensor Data
  • Permits Data
  • Right of Way:  Acquisitions, Relocation and Land Management
  • Maintenance Ticket Data
  • Masterworks Data
Platform Enhancements: 
  • Unit budgets and expenses
  • Financial module upgrades and enhancements 
  • Ability to execute 'joins' in the platform
  • Predictive and prescriptive analytics using R
  • New Socrata Module: Citizens Connect
  • Transportation expert support

Working Together

Moving forward, there are several ways in which Grant Thornton, Socrata and UDOT can jointly support each other in ways that will improve upon the value delivered by the solution. 
  • Continued involvement with Socrata as a design partner
  • FAST ACT grant application support
  • Joint marketing of key accomplishments
  • Navigator Awards Nomination
  • AASHTO Cincinnati Event