Best of BI: City of Richardson, Texas, finds BI value across agencies

By Mary K. Pratt

The City of Richardson's mission, like that of any government, is to serve its citizens effectively and efficiently.


To do that, this Texas city scrapped its outdated reporting systems and deployed a more agile application, says Eric Matthews, the city's deputy CIO for application development.


"We wanted a single environment for users and for us to support. We wanted a straightforward system," Matthews says about his decision six years ago to deploy Information Builders' WebFocus. He says he opted for WebFocus also because of its geographic component, a feature the city's water department had identified as desirable.


Matthews says the biggest ROI has been the dramatic drop in the time it takes city workers to produce reports. The code enforcement department, for example, can now prepare reports in several minutes rather than several days. Similarly, the police department cut the time it takes to compile monthly crime reports from two days to just minutes.

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That time savings was a great benefit, and now the city is finding other uses for the BI system, says Matthews, noting that city officials are using it to access and analyze information when making critical decisions.


For instance, WebFocus allows police officers to use their smartphones to access active reports pulled from the department's computer-aided dispatch system and drill down for information such as the history of emergency calls from a particular location.Also, to determine if it should seek city funding for another ambulance, the fire department used WebFocus to analyze the number of times that all, or nearly all, of its ambulances are out on emergency calls.


"It's information that would be too cumbersome to track and report through the other systems we use when calls go out," says Ed Hotz, the fire department's assistant chief of administration. He noted that the statistics produced by WebFocus did prompt the department to seek funding for an additional ambulance this year.


Matthews says elected officials are also using the BI tool. For example, a city counselor who wants to determine which neighborhoods should receive betterment funding is using it to analyze average home values, percentages of rental units and tax data from several sources.

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her 
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