The need for insights
Never before has analytics, transparency and accountability been such hot topics for local governments. Both citizens and legislators are holding city leaders accountable for public spending as well as their performance on citizen services. With depleting budgets city leadership must not only manage their assets and processes better but additionally stand up to the scrutiny of other stakeholders.
Some of the key functional areas that come under the ambit of urban local governance include:
1. Urban Planning including Town planning
2. Regulation of Land Use and Construction of Buildings
3. Roads and Bridges
4. Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes
5. Public Health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management
6. Fire Services
7. Urban Forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects
8. Provision of urban amenities like parks, gardens and playgrounds
Saddled with stove-pipe applications that manage a few of these assets and processes, city leadership is being challenged to find new ways to get the big picture as well as manage the details that make that big picture. They need tools and methods to be able to provision, approve, monitor and maintain these assets.
The days of paper-based, local spreadsheet based methods of reporting are numbered – not only is it undesirable but also unaffordable. It is undesirable because a disjointed view of data completely distorts both planning and execution perspectives. Unaffordable because citizens and legislators are not willing to live with answers that are not anchored on facts.
How can Analytics help?
Analytics can help urban local bodies bring together departmental data silos and provide consistent information and insights across the board. Armed with the right Analytics tools city leaders can now
1. Analyze patterns of past, present and future infrastructure projects in relation to its Development Plans
2. Analyze the results of spending and gain insights for better
3. Model the outcome of future spending and programs and ensure better utilization of development funds
4. Communicate results to legislators, ministries, funding bodies and citizens
Enabling Building Plan Approval and Works Management
SoftTech is a company with innovative software products for Building Plan Approval and Works Management. It has now taken these products to the next level by integrating IBM’s Cognos as the Reporting and Analytics Engine. Customers can gain new and dynamic insights on their building plan approval process and their works management activities. They are able to dynamically configure reports, configure role based dashboards and scorecards and drill down to any level of detail. This will in multiple ways transform the way infrastructure projects are governed in cities.
Through Cognos city authorities can monitor the entire lifecycle of planning, approval, procurement and maintenance. They get perspectives and insights that they never got before. Project approvals are measured against thresholds, accountability pinpointed by drilling down to where the process is stuck, patterns emerge when roads and bridges are provisioned, inter departmental conflicts are resolved through workflows and insights are obtained around potential delays in works and their impact on city life
Moving to an Analytics Culture
As these tools become more available, they will help enable a paradigm shift to a culture of analytics- A culture which enables and nudges agency officials to think more analytically, to embrace accountability and focus on outcomes. With the kind of spending taking place in the infrastructure sector, this seems only logical and immensely pro-active.