The Knowledge Exchange / Customer Intelligence / Citizen Intelligence: Because government agencies have customers too

Citizen Intelligence: Because government agencies have customers too

If customer relationships are important for consumer organizations, what about citizen relationships in the public sector? They are just as important, and the same customer intelligence technologies used by business are being used by government organizations to better serve citizens, understand citizen needs, keep citizens healthy, and combat fraud, waste and abuse.

Around the world, government organizations are looking to the private sector to enhance service delivery while maximizing the use of, and benefit from, every taxpayer dollar. Citizen intelligence helps government organizations provide better services to citizens in a transparent, fiscally responsible manner with the ultimate goal of gaining a 360-degree view of a citizen. This “holistic view” allows government organizations to hone their service delivery in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Customer intelligence technology can help public health agencies ensure that residents receive the most effective services in the most efficient manner.

Here are four examples of public sector agencies using analytics and citizen intelligence to work toward their ultimate goal: a better, safer place for all citizens:

1.     Public safety and security
Increasing volumes of data, shrinking budgets and limited resources can hinder law enforcement and criminal justice agencies from effectively sharing information and proactively maintaining public safety. Following the tragic murders of two North Carolina college students, the state General Assembly recognized the urgent need for state-of-the-art integrated criminal justice information and mandated the development of a criminal justice data integration pilot program.

The North Carolina Office of the State Controller (OSC) developed the Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services (CJLEADS) pilot application. The goal of CJLEADS is more efficient, better-informed decisions and improved public safety. Historically, compiling a complete offender profile, or “360 degree view of an offender,” was time-consuming and inefficient, and data was not readily available to all criminal justice professionals. CJLEADS provides a secure, Web-based application for up-to-date North Carolina criminal information.

CJLEADS had two primary objectives: 1) to define a comprehensive profile of an offender’s North Carolina criminal history including photographic images; and 2) to provide a watch-list capability to alert criminal justice professionals when offenders have a change in status such as an arrest or release from custody.

The primary technical challenges involved data access, quality and integration. Given the complexity of criminal justice information, including regulatory and security issues associated with this data, as well as the urgency of the project, the state recognized the need to work with an industry leader in data integration and business analytics. CJLEADS is an on-demand, Web-based application hosted by SAS, employing technologies such as SAS Enterprise BI Server, SAS Enterprise Data Integration Server and SAS® Enterprise Miner™.

CJLEADS benefits society at the most fundamental levels. It saves lives and increases the safety of citizens and law enforcement. Better information leading to better-informed decision making helps deter and capture criminals and improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system.

2.     Combating fraud, waste and abuse
Louisiana provides an example of an innovative statewide fraud and abuse detection system – the first of its kind in the United States. The system could recoup millions of dollars over time in state revenue lost because of illegal practices by some businesses and workers – all possible through implementing a system which provides a holistic view of citizens and businesses.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is the first state agency to use the system, and its first goal is to improve detection of a fraud scheme known as “SUTA dumping.” SUTA stands for State Unemployment Tax Act, so SUTA dumping is a scheme where shady employers use to illegally dodge at least a portion of their unemployment insurance taxes. The practice involves improperly shifting payrolls to other entities that have lower tax rates. 

This is the first effort of its kind by a multi-agency partnership to uncover fraudulent activity through the development of a central data warehouse. This effort involves analysis of information such as wage and tax filings, unemployment insurance claims and new-hire listings – enabling a 360-degree view of a citizen or business entity. Louisiana is now at the forefront of the fight against those who would defraud the government and try to gain an illegal advantage over other businesses or take advantage of their employees.

With this system, state agencies will be able to create a composite view of individuals’ or companies’ interactions with government programs, which will uncover previously unknown links and leads for investigations. It will support SUTA dumping investigations by pulling from multiple sources to detect companies that file as new corporations but do not have corresponding workers’ compensation coverage; show the same workers listed as employees for tax purposes, but classified elsewhere as independent contractors to avoid workers’ compensation premiums; and identify individuals who collect workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance benefits, but are working elsewhere at the same time according to employer wage reports.

As the program expands, it will broaden the scope of fraud investigations, such as a person applying for food stamps who might claim to be unemployed, but on a separate application for child care services, claim to be working. The system, which will also use predictive modeling and social analysis to identify interpersonal associations and potential fraud rings, supports Louisiana’s growing reputation as a state with strong good-business practices.

3.    Improving health outcomes
The County of San Bernardino, California’s Department of Behavioral Health uses citizen intelligence technology to improve client outcomes for the residents it serves. The department will use a data warehouse to standardize, consolidate and access existing data. It will apply advanced analytics and predictive models to generate insights to help direct the department’s funds and resources to programs that are most effective and beneficial to constituents.

“We continuously look for better ways to serve our people, particularly in challenging economic times,” said Keith Harris, PhD, who manages the department’s Research and Evaluation Section. “With SAS software, we will be able to identify which services work best for which clients and more effectively address the mental health service needs of our residents while at the same time attending to our fiscal responsibilities as a public agency.”

The County of San Bernardino’s Behavioral Health Department serves approximately 45,000 of its residents each year through programs that support prevention, intervention, recovery and resiliency for people suffering from mental and emotional disorders and/or substance abuse problems. It also conducts outreach and education activities to support individuals, families and communities affected by behavioral health problems.

By integrating knowledge within and across county organizations, CI technology allows agencies to create a holistic and integrated view of residents and families, analyzing their service utilization and needs and designing effective programs of care. Modeling capabilities enable administrators to predict the future needs of clients and families to plan appropriate services that will achieve the best long-term outcomes.

CI technology can help public health agencies ensure that residents receive the most effective services in the most efficient manner. With CI technology, agencies can increase the quality of their services while managing and reducing costs, improving program effectiveness, adhering to reporting and accountability standards and, where applicable, ensuring the safety of those clients who are at high risk for hospitalization.

4.     Using citizen feedback to enhance service delivery
The Hong Kong Efficiency Unit proactively identifies potential public risks and concerns from call detail records, e-mails and inquiries. The 1823 Call Centre of the Hong Kong government’s Efficiency Unit acts as a single point of contact for handling public inquiries and complaints on behalf of many government departments. 1823 operates around the clock, including during Sundays and public holidays. Each year, it answers about 2.65 million calls and 98,000 e-mails, including inquiries, suggestions and complaints. 

The Efficiency Unit aims to be the preferred consulting partner for all government bureaus and departments and to advance the delivery of world-class public services to the people of Hong Kong. The Unit launched the 1823 Call Centre in 2001. One of 1823’s main functions is handling complaints – 10 percent of the calls received last year were complaints.

The Efficiency Unit recognized that there are social messages hidden in the complaints data, which provide important feedback on public service and highlight opportunities for service improvement. Rather than simply handling calls and e-mails, the Unit seeks to use the complaints information collected to gain a better understanding of daily issues for the public. By decoding the messages through statistical and root-cause analyses of complaints data, the government can better understand the voice of the people and help government departments improve service delivery, make informed decisions and develop smart strategies. This in turn helps boost public satisfaction with the government and build a quality city.”

For more, download this special report on technology issues in government: Public sector, public trust.

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