Created one of the nation’s only Community Vaccination Centers to digitize service delivery and hosted over 1,300 virtual meetings that served over 10,000 participants.
Used a data-driven approach to analyze historic contracting data, identify gaps in contracting with small, minority-women-and veteran owned businesses.
Data helped map health disparities by ZIP code and correlated health data to Census tracts to demonstrate how a person’s residency is directly connected to their quality of life, including expected lifespan, access to food, and exposure to crime.
Tapping Growing Data Potential
Warren Kron, the City-Parish’s GIS manager, works with his colleagues in the Department of Information Services and GIS section to make such storytelling possible across city-parish governments. During the pandemic, his team helped create a COVID-19 dashboard to provide comprehensive information about virus cases that could help policymakers and hospitals manage the crisis. He compiled information from the Louisiana Department of Health, coroner reports and 911 calls, and then mapped everything.
“We aggregated the data to Census tract geographies to identify the hotspots in our parish, which the Mayor’s Office then used to decide where to set up testing locations and direct other response resources,” Kron says.
Initially for internal use, the dashboard went public in May 2020. During weekly calls, Baton Rouge area hospital administrators, the Mayor’s Office, and other stakeholders used data from the tool to guide key COVID-19-related decisions and coordinate policies. Kron’s team has since automated much of the data to minimize upkeep and maintain current information, and the dashboard now also displays vaccination information. Such initiatives are possible because the City-Parish decided several years ago to consolidate its GIS staff spread across various departments into a single team.
But today, centralized in one office and championed by Director of Information Services, Eric Romero, the GIS team leverages data sets and creates powerful tools that help policymakers and on-the-ground staff deliver services. One example: The GIS team helped city-parish street maintenance crews use geographic data drawn from residents’ 311 service requests to more efficiently fix potholes. Kron’s team built an app that mapped pothole locations, and workers eliminated a backlog of 3,000 pothole requests in three months.
“We have seen tremendous gains in efficiency,” Kron says, noting that while a lot of the data his team manages has been around for a while, it has never been easier to map it and make it digestible. “It’s the application of all this data that matters.”
The City-Parish plans to rebrand the GIS team as the data, analytics, and performance office — still within the Department of Information Services, but with a name and function more closely aligned with the role this team serves for city-parish government. This office will serve as the central place for internal and external stakeholders to get data, access analyses, review data trends, and more. That will build on Baton Rouge’s considerable open data resources, which cover everything from the budget and spending to neighborhood-level crime and 311 requests. A core goal of all this work is to empower people with information.