City of Los Angeles Case Study

Data Analysis Projects

Proof of Concept for Expanding Data-Driven Decision Making

Through the Civic Data Team’s project, we were able to develop a curriculum for data science that fits the needs of our most talented community college students and draws in the resources of the neighborhood. – Drew Yamanishi, Manager, Los Angeles City College Community Services

In 2014, Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles, launched the City’s open data portal, making LA a leader among municipalities in its transparency practices. Although the Mayor’s Office has since been growing a data science team, other City departments have been facing the need to build out their capabilities in analytics for internal decision making. Leaders in the Information Technology Agency, Personnel Department, and Controller’s Office recognized that cutting-edge data analysis techniques could produce real improvements in City services and reduce inefficiencies. However, with no funding allocated for data science, and no internal track record, these departments needed a proof of concept that would justify budget allocations for new data initiatives.

We proposed a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and LA City College in which a team of talented students and technically proficient community members would complete a data analysis project for the City with mentoring by USC and UCLA graduate students in data-intensive fields of study.dbl-pics

The team that coalesced around the project became the LA Civic Data Team, with project management and training sponsored by Proficia.

We navigated the year-long process of establishing a formal partnership between two large public entities, identifying allies in each organization who could help propel the project forward and bring all stakeholders together toward common goals.

Our liaisons at the City expressed an interest in a better understanding of what data analytics involves. In addition to performing an analysis and reporting results, we led the team in developing a narrative describing the team’s thought process, procedures, and tools. We guided the City toward open source tools that would enable them to focus limited resources on building a team, not paying for high-priced software.

Meanwhile, Proficia’s sponsorship of the LA Civic Data Team has enabled five cohorts of students to learn statistical concepts and programming skills while giving them the opportunity to interface with a real client.