On Monday, June 20th, we unveiled our second pilot analytics training, designed for expert data analysts within the City and County of Denver. This training was designed in partnership with professors from the University of Denver Daniels College of Business, Business Information and Analytics Department.

Ryan Elmore teaching
DU Professor Ryan Elmore introducing R Markdown

Like our earlier analytics training in March, this training is the result of the Bloomberg Philanthropies “What Works Cities” initiative. Through this initiative, Denver has been collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) since December, enhancing the city’s open data process and data analysis capabilities of city analysts.

Over the past several month, Peak has been expanding its service and training offerings to include data analytics and encourage more evidence-based practices, with support from GovEx and other What Works Cities partners. Our goal is to create an analytics-focused initiative within the City and County of Denver, similar to that of the Peak Academy, to enhance Denver’s data quality as well as how it uses and shares data.

By creating a suite of training offerings, defining ways to apply the training, and offering guidance to agencies on analytics projects, we aim to develop a more data-informed culture. Think of it as the “moneyball” of municipal government. We’re finding ways to get better at collecting data and understanding it, so that we can make better and most cost-effective decisions as a city government.

Peak’s two day Analytics 201 class in March introduced inferential statistics and dashboards to a group of analysts. In contrast, this first Advanced Analytics class was a hands-on, three hour session developed and delivered by Professors Ryan Elmore and Kellie Keeling, and focused on using R Markdown to create visualizations and reports of 311 data in R (an open-source statistical software).

Kellie Keeling teaching
DU Professor Kellie Keeling showcasing visualizations in R

In a discussion immediately following the class, the participants suggested creating a networking group to share tips and tricks for cleaning, organizing, and analyzing data, asking questions, and sharing ideas. They were keen to see a more open source environment within the city, as well as a common language and standard for using and sharing data.

Surveys were sent to the 10 participants of this Advanced Analytics class, and 100% of the respondents rated the class as a great experience, though only 40% felt that the course objectives were clear. The participants liked the hands-on nature and length of the class, and appreciated that real data was used. However, they suggested that the class be slightly longer or allow more time for guided play, as there was a lot covered in the short timeframe.

We look forward to continuing to build training opportunities to better leverage data within the City and County of Denver and to support analysts in city agencies. Stay tuned for future developments!

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