Denver has been collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) through the Bloomberg Philanthropies “What Works Cities” initiative since December, enhancing the city’s open data process and designing opportunities to improve data analysis capabilities. By enhancing our data collection and analysis, Denver can deliver services in a more targeted way and make better, more data-driven decisions about where to provide city resources.
Denver and GovEx just developed a training for management analysts, and other data analysts, throughout the city, which focuses on inferential statistics (drawing conclusions about a large population from a small sample, using tools such as t-tests, hypothesis tests, and regression analysis) and data visualization through dashboards. Peak delivered the training to 18 participants representing 10 different departments, and each participant had a different background in statistics. For some, this training was brand-new, and for others it was a refresher of previous college courses.
This two-day training, which occurred March 15th and 16th, sought to demystify analytics and demonstrate how inferential statistics can be applied to their work. The two trainers, Kate May and Greg Reger from the Peak team, also introduced a structured analytical problem-solving process, tools and tips to clean data in Excel, and a low-cost dashboarding tool so trainees can hit the ground running back in their departments.
Overall, the participants loved the Excel tips and tricks, dashboarding tool, data visualization module, and the final exercise which combined all the concepts to analyze and visualize a 311 dataset from Denver’s Open Data Catalog. 90% rated the class as outstanding/a great experience. Here are some of the responses from participants, when asked what they liked best about the analytics training:
“Knowing that we were laying the groundwork to help countless other city employees improve process and better serve their customers”
“Directly applicable to my work”
“Loved the resource. The tips & tricks and exposure to the dashboard and applications.”
“Learning about tools that will be valuable in my job.”
Before we offer the class again, the participants suggested that the training be even more practical, applied, and hands-on, such as by asking students to bring an example, doing both group and individual exercises, and modifying the content to be less hypothetical and theoretical.
In the near future, we will offer this training again to additional Denver employees and offer an advanced analytics series, because these are tools that can help every department in the city. Stay tuned!
Greg Reger coordinates behavioral economic analyses, trains and coaches employees on data analysis and visualization, supports open data initiatives, advises agencies on performance indicators, and supports other analytics offerings with Peak. Since starting with Peak Academy in 2013, he has trained over 1,000 individuals in process improvement, change management, behavioral economics, and data-driven decisionmaking. Prior to joining Peak, he worked as an ICMA management fellow with the City of Hamilton, OH, and managed contractors & performed weatherization audits with a large Chicago nonprofit. Greg holds an MPA from Syracuse University's Maxwell School and an undergraduate degree in Business (with minors in Mathematics and Religion) from Lake Forest College.
Thanks for sharing information about the training your are doing to “demystify analytics.” I’m the performance administrator at the City of Mesa (AZ), also a What Works Cities participant. My group is in the process of developing some basic training in analytics. We are considering half day classes rather than full day classes. Also, would you be willing to share your curriculum outline?
Welcome to the What Works Cities program! I’d be happy to talk to you about the analytics training and related work, and share our curriculum. I’ll send you an email with the link.