Customer Story

Embedded Analytics Provide Insights that Support the Work of Civic Consulting Alliance

Company Overview

Civic Consulting Alliance is a nonprofit organization bringing together collaborative, pro bono investments to get big things done for Chicago. Civic Consulting Alliance focuses on three key platforms that are integral to improving quality of life, including: building safer and more just communities, ensuring equitable access to education opportunities and outcomes, and growing an economy that works for everyone.

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. I’ve turned into a huge fan of data analytics and data visualization.

Problem: Complex Decision Making Requires More Modern Analytics

Civic Consulting Alliance serves public and social sector clients working at a systems-level toward inclusive and equitable solutions, providing the flexible and responsive capacity and expertise that clients need to design their own solutions, and to build infrastructure to make them sustainable.

Choosing which projects to take on and where to direct Civic Consulting Alliance resources is an important decision that takes into account many data points and circumstances, such as household income and demographics as well as infrastructure investments and historic disinvestments.

While this type of data is publicly available, it is often provided in static spreadsheets and other formats that don’t support complex decision-making.

Civic Consulting Alliance needed:

  • Guidance on selecting the right tool for their analytical needs; and
  • A modern analytics solution to provide actionable data on household income across different demographic groups and geographic areas in Cook County to give Civic Consulting Alliance the insights needed to focus their efforts and maximize their impact.

Solution: Embedded Analytics Paints Clear Picture of Inequities

We built a proof-of-concept with five modern analytics tools—Qlik, Looker, Power BI, Tableau, and AWS QuickSight. Through a bakeoff process, we demonstrated different ways data could be visualized, and Civic Consulting Alliance made an informed decision on the best tool option for their consulting model and technology requirements.

We ultimately built a solution using Tableau embedded analytics that integrates a variety of types of data from many sources, including:

  • Open data sources like the American Community Survey, which measures median household income across specified demographics.
  • Geospatial mapping files from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • 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.

We embedded the analytics into a portal that Civic Consulting Alliance could log into without any authentication, licensing, or sign-on required on the part of the users. We built in custom navigation, color themes, and web actions within the web page using custom HTML and CSS, which allows users to filter and move from one report to another within one user interface.

Dashboards within the solution use maps to visualize median household income and income change across racial demographic groups, with the ability to view and compare across different time periods to show improving or worsening trends over time among specific communities. Other views include overlaying median home prices and their growth versus household income, unemployment rates across specific census tracts, and income disparity percentages in black households versus white households.

Results: Supporting Equitable Solutions with Sound Data

Civic Consulting Alliance now has a visualization tool that allows them to identify—at a granular level—communities in Cook County that have experienced disinvestment, and to visualize trends in household income by census tract and demographic. Reporting is now automated; information on racial disparities is more complete, up-to-date, and accurate; and dashboards that are available to all staff are easily interpreted by even the most novice data users.

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.