Using embedded analytics to create an economic vitality dashboard allows Civic Consulting Alliance to further their impact within the Chicagoland area.

Rooted in Chicago’s history since 1877, Civic Consulting Alliance was officially formed in 2005 and has since steered nearly $200 million in collaborative pro bono investments toward building safer communities, ensuring equitable access to education opportunities and outcomes, and growing an economy that works for everyone within the Chicagoland area.

The organization’s mission is to make the Chicago region a great place for everyone to live and work and it does so by leveraging institutional knowledge, as well as the power of public-private collaboration. But equally important is the use of data and analysis to help inform decisions on which projects to take on and how much funding and resources to allocate to them. Although the work Civic Consulting Alliance does is complex in nature, having access to the right data at the right time is the key to simplifying the process and ensuring their programs are impactful across the region.

The Challenge: Difficulty Accessing the Details Make Complex Decision-Making Even Harder

Chicago is a large diverse and segregated city—with parts that are booming and others that are struggling. Civic Consulting Alliance has a long history of understanding where there is economic vitality within the city and where there are gaps and the need for additional resources. The organization bases their research and work using information such as median household income and demographics as well as infrastructure investments and historic disinvestments.

And although this data is publicly available, it has historically been provided in static spreadsheets and other formats that are often dated and don’t support complex decision-making. The organization needed a modern analytics solution to provide actionable data and to give them the insights needed to focus their efforts as well as maximize their impact in the Chicago region.

The Solution: Embedded Analytics Lead to Immediate, Actionable Insights

Placing real-time data and analytics at the point of need was essential for Civic Consulting Alliance to effectively allocate resources to the right projects. To do this, the organization looked at five different business intelligence (BI) tools—including QlikLookerPower BITableau, and AWS QuickSight. After a bake-off process, they ultimately decided that Tableau was the best modern analytics tool for their consulting model and technology requirements.

The Tableau embedded analytics solution integrates a variety of types of data from many sources, including the American Community Survey, which measures median household income across specified demographics; geospatial mapping files from the U.S. Census Bureau; and other data elements such as Zillow home prices, racial disparity percentage mix across neighborhoods, residential property values, and the percentage of rent versus median income in select neighborhoods.

The Tableau solution—which is embedded into an external-facing site that Civic Consulting Alliance could log into without any authentication, licensing, or sign-on required on the part of the users—was custom-built incorporating the organization’s specific color and font requirements and allows users to filter and move from one report to another within one user interface.

Decision-makers have access to dashboards that allow them to visualize the data, view and compare the information across different time periods to show improving or worsening trends, and the ability to overlay this information with other factors before moving forward with a decision.

The Results: Clear View into Sound Data Supports Equitable and Impactful Outcomes

Adopting a modern analytics solution embedded into CCA’s external-facing site has provided them with a visualization tool that allows them to identify—at a granular level—communities in Cook County that will benefit from additional resources and investment.

The embedded analytics solution has automated organizational reporting—providing complete, up-to-date, and accurate information on racial disparities. The best part is that all this information is readily available and easily accessible to everyone at Civic Consulting Alliance—even the most novice data users.

“From my perspective, the dashboard is incredibly helpful to us because it’s brought up questions that I wouldn’t have even thought of before because I didn’t think I had the capacity to answer them,” said Kirsten Carroll, Principal at Civic Consulting Alliance. “I’ve turned into a huge fan of data analytics and data visualization.”

This data visualization tool is now an important part of the toolkit that Civic Consulting Alliance uses to incorporate a racial equity framework into all its client work, and especially as it moves toward proving even more value across the Chicago region.

Sharon Rehana Sharon Rehana is the content manager at Analytics8 with experience in creating content across multiple industries. She found a home in data and analytics because that’s where storytelling always begins.
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