July 2015 | SunGard Public Sector
Friday, July 17, 2015

As part of our SUGA International Training and Conference in Atlanta in May, we had the privilege of hearing from Aaron Bentley with the City of Salt Lake, UT about how advances in data analytics are transforming how his agency is able to consume, examine, and benefit from data. Aaron was interviewed at the event by SunGard’s own Kevin Lafeber.

Kevin Lafeber:  Where did your journey with data analytics begin at Salt Lake City?

Aaron Bentley: A few years ago I had an uncomfortable call. It was a meeting with our CIO and CFO. We had a problem—we had a great ERP system but it was a black hole. Everything that you put into it… nothing comes out. They charged me with coming up with a solution. That’s when I began the process of investigating and implementing SunGard Public Sector’s Analytics tool. It’s changed the way we do business in Salt Lake.

KL: With that solution, are you restricted to pulling data just from SunGard products or are you able to pull from other databases as well?

AB: That’s the great thing about the tool. At first we used HR and Payroll, and then our sustainability director saw what we were doing and said ‘I see what you’re doing there. Can you do it for me?’ So one of the first things we did was a greenhouse gas initiative. We brought in all of our data from our power bills for all of our facilities, and we began analyzing that. What that allows us to do is that any director across the city can now see what their facility is consuming.

Kevin: Tell me about how the rest of your organization is able to use these tools.

AB: That’s the beauty of Analytics. While at the back end it has some robust functionality, for the end user it’s easy. In the dashboard, they can simply drag over what they want to see and it appears. It’s available for any end user. It’s very simple.

KL: What other areas of your city have been able to benefit from using Analytics?

AB: For paramedics, we have e-patient software. It’s a cloud solution, but the reporting wasn’t where we needed it. So we brought that down into our own database, and we can have our e-patient system right there, so we have our analytics on the dashboard. The other is a fleet management system that comes into a dashboard, so you can look at your fleet, your fuel usage, where your vehicles are at, all because of SPS Analytics.

KL: I know transparency is a big initiative right now. Tell me about how that’s being received in the city of Salt Lake.

AB: The state of Utah mandated transparency a few years ago. The process was originally very complex. We had to run all these queries to extract the data. With these tools, transparency is much easier. We’re a partner of Socrata as well, and we can upload that data or use any other tool to get that data available.

For more information on how data analytics is helping Salt Lake City manage its finances, please watch the video above.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015


By Kristy Dalton

Whether it be a natural disaster or a criminal act, an emergency in the community requires public agencies to spring into action. Make sure you include your digital strategy as a part of your emergency response preparations. What I consider digital strategy involves the broad areas of social media, email communications and your agency’s website.

Your agency might be very well trained for emergency response, but there is always room to reiterate the value of reviewing how digital tools complement the overall picture. We don’t want the webmaster or social media coordinator to be left out of response planning. You may already have an offline contact list of important emergency contacts, including your director and the Public Information Officer. Make sure to also add contacts that manage your agencies digital presence, including the webmaster and the social media lead.

Website Strategy in Emergencies

Something you should be doing right now is planning your website strategy for emergency situations. Say there’s a blizzard in your area and you have information about street closures, plowing, warming centers – whatever needs to be communicated with the public. Plan for how this will be integrated with your website. Where will this information reside? Do you have an emergency section that is ‘turned on’ when the emergency operations center activates?

A typical feature is to have an emergency alert on the homepage – perhaps bright red or orange – that gains the attention of visitors. For your emergency strategy, understand how this is section is activated, who activates it, and establish protocol for if that individual is not available. Make sure everything is documented.

Focusing on Social 

One reason I encourage agencies to have a social media strategy during crisis situations is that using social platforms reduces the load on your official website. There have been situations where government websites have crashed due to massive amounts of traffic during an emergency. There will be a large spike in traffic if you look at the analytics for even small events, such as a morning snowfall.

It’s very important to establish a lead agency for social media early on in the incident. Typically, this will mimic whom the incident commanders have identified as the lead agency for response purposes. In terms of social media, that agency will be the primary poster of original information, and your job (say, as the agency next door), will be to support them. You will re-tweet their tweets, share their Facebook posts, and point to them for most new announcements about the situation. If you’re part of the lead agency, that role is yours.


Hashtag #SMEM, stands for ‘social media emergency management’. A community of emergency managers hosts a Friday #SMEMCHAT on Twitter at 12:30pm EST to share best practices on managing social media in an emergency situation. I also encourage you to check out resources by crisis management expert, Melissa Agnes. Her crisis intelligence podcast regularly focuses on digital strategy.


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