What is it?
Earlier this year, our team reorganized its work around three service offerings for the City. A central theme within each was the desire to bring more and better data into day-to-day decision-making.
Shortly afterwards, we met with the Seattle Fire Department (“SFD” or the “Department”). Led by Chief Scoggins, the Department is a national leader in a range of efforts to improve services and better serve the people of Seattle. In this vein, SFD had identified an opportunity to drive performance with own operational data, but faced a series of obstacles:
- Disparate and inaccessible data sets. Operational data was stored in thirteen unconnected data systems, in a wide variety of formats.
- Reporting tools that for worked for some, but not all. Many of SFD’s systems for monitoring and interrogating performance were static spreadsheets containing Department-level data. Many found them difficult to interpret; those who had narrower operational responsibilities often could not easily isolate the performance of their battalion or unit.
- Few opportunities to bring data to operational problem-solving. With few regular opportunities for Department-wide interrogation of operational measures, performance management often relied upon ad-hoc communications from leadership to operational groups.
In response, SFD and IP worked together to unlock the value in the Department’s existing data. Inspired by examples nationally and locally, we worked with SFD to design and deliver a STAT-style performance program for the Department, built around three efforts:
- Infrastructure. In partnership with Seattle IT, we automated and transformed key datasets among the disparate data sources maintained by the Department, providing a platform for real-time access and future analysis.
- Interactive performance tools. Informed by interviews with command and operational staff across SFD, we created operational dashboards that share and allow the interrogation of key operational and performance data over time. To meet the needs of operational staff and from department to battalion-, station-, unit- and even shift-level.
- Drawing upon principles of human-centered design, we have designed, set-up and prototyped a departmental STAT meeting for SFD. Designed with the unique shift pattern of a fire department in mind, we continue to iterate with the benefit of user experience.
The first, prototype FireSTAT sessions have taken place in the last months and we continue to refine and develop this practice. Already, the project is bearing fruit for the Department:
- Deepening use of data and performance measures in by SFD management. The back-end automation and visualization of data has allowed existing performance measures to be better-integrated into operational management.
- Enabling SFD operational decision-makers to identify, analyze and respond to key trends in fire and EMS demand. Real-time plotting and evaluation of department operations has allowed emerging trends to be tracked, analyzed and responded to within days. Recent trends in illegal burning and hotspots for EMS call volumes were analyzed with FireSTAT.
- Supporting collaborative problem solving around key SFD KPIs. The new dashboards have allowed surfacing of relevant trends and comparison in nationally-recognized performance measures; prototype STAT meetings have facilitated shared problem-solving around these issues.
All this is only the beginning. We are excited to deepen the practice of FireSTAT and to expand its reach into other operational datasets. Watch this space!