UDOT - Grant Thornton Executive Leadership Checkpoint

August 29, 2018

Where we are and where we've been...

The Utah Department of Transportation engaged with Grant Thornton in May of 2016 to leverage the Socrata Data Platform to build a business intelligence platform capable of sharing its information assets with internal and external constituents and to provide transportation consulting services in support of the platform as needed.  Prior to this engagement, UDOT faced several challenges in managing its information assets, including: 
  • Data and reports not available for many key functions
  • Reports not delivered in a timely manner
  • Modifications to existing reports was difficult
  • Limited data analysis capabilities
  • No single source of the truth 

Key Accomplishments

Over the past two and a half years, the Grant Thornton and UDOT teams have made many improvements to the departments business intelligence capabilities, including: 
  • Integrated data from numerous UDOT transactional systems / data warehouses into the Socrata Platform
  • Began delivery of key reports on a nightly (or more frequent) basis
  • Created new reports and data sets supporting several UDOT functions
  • Transformed annual strategic direction into an interactive web based document updated nightly
  • Helped support development and implementation of new performance metrics 

Project is at an inflection point

Now that data from most key systems is automatically uploaded into Socrata on a nightly basis, UDOTs needs are changing:
  • Need to move from reporting to actionable insights
  • Support development of a data driven culture that spans all UDOT business functions
  • More coordination between data, information technology and performance management teams
  • Reduction in development timelines
  • Demand for additional platform features

Where are we going?

Suggested Initiatives

Below you will find summarizes of suggested initiatives that the Grant Thornton team could focus on over the next twelve months.

1. Socrata Architecture Review and Update
Since the platform came online in May 2016, UDOT has created more than 430 data sets, 450 stories, 470 charts, 260 data lenses and 200 filtered views within Socrata.  
While many of these assets are heavily utilized, others are relics of an older code base or are temporary assets that were created in the past to support specific needs that may no longer exist.  

It is highly recommended that UDOT spend the time to do an architecture review, to optimize and govern the way that assets are organized within the system.  This will have several benefits including improved system performance, easier identification of data sources and faster development of charts and reports. 

Estimated Effort:  Moderate

2. Performance management  v2.0
One of the key initiatives at UDOT is developing the next generation of performance management metrics and processes.  These will not only allow departments to transform the way that they manage themselves using data but also help ensure better and more efficient decision making.  
Grant Thornton has recently spent time supporting the ROW department (Case Study below) - a similar effort could be done for the other UDOT departments. 
Estimated Effort: Medium - High

3. SCGC Upgrade
In the summer of 2018, Socrata introduced a major platform upgrade titled "the Socrata Connected Government Cloud".  This platform features many enhancements to the product, several of which were the direct result of UDOT's efforts as a design partner, including: 
  • User access rights and controls
  • Public, internal and private assets
  • Triggers and alerting
  • Improved visualizations
  • Better workflow and data governance opportunities
  • New module access
Estimated Effort:  Low effort to enable features /  Variable effort to implement programs supporting new features

4. Socrata Education and Training
To drive more use of the Socrata platform, it is recommended that UDOT develop and promote a program for user level training.  Several stories with information on how to use the tool have already been created (search: Socrata 101) and there are online educational videos available from Socrata directly.  
Grant Thornton can help UDOT develop this program, manage its roll-out, and be available to answer questions that users may have and / or provide hands-on support as needed. 

More advanced training in "the art of the possible" is available with additional effort.
Estimated Effort: Low / Moderate 

5. Implementation of New Socrata Modules
The Socrata data platform comes with several additional modules that have not yet been implemented by UDOT, including: 
  • Capital Projects Explorer:  Can be used to report basic project related information.  Target audience would be public / legislature.
  • Citizens Connect:  Can be used to display event driven information to intern
  • Open Performance: Refreshed module for displaying KPIs and other performance related information. 
Estimated Effort: Moderate - High

6. Map / Geo-spatial Integration
To date, UDOT has made limited use of the mapping capabilities built into the Socrata platform.  Currently, the ArcGIS server is connected to the UDOT platform and syncs information nightly but little has been done to optimize this connection or use these assets. 
In SCGC - the mapping experience has been greatly improved with a new interface allowing for multiple layers of information over-layed onto a single map. 
This project would involve working with UDOT's ESRI team to improve the existing connection to ArcGIS and begin integrating maps into some of UDOTs key reports, as applicable,
Estimated Effort: Moderate