An-a-lyt-ics

noun

  • the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics
  • information resulting from the systematic analysis of data or statistics

Jaleel White as Steve Urkel. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Urkel

Me?  An analytics geek? I never would describe myself as an analytics geek. But as I look at the definition and reflect on my day-to-day routine, I might be right up there with Steve Urkel.

“How so?” you ask?

Well, from the moment my blue eyes open until they close again at the end of the day, it’s all about computation.  What’s the latest I can get out of bed and still get everyone where they need to be?  How many cups of coffee do I need to brew this morning?  Is there enough peanut butter for three sandwiches?  What time is practice(s) vs. the last work meeting of the day?  How am I going to put money away for college for my three daughters, while still paying monthly bills…?  Come on Powerball!!!

Analytics plays a big part in our day-to-day routine.

Think about it—we all have a monthly expenditure, right?  Mortgage, car payments, groceries, electric, clothing, rainy day fund, even nails and hair (I’m learning) are a regular monthly expenditure.  How does what’s coming in, compare to what’s going out?  If you’re like my family, one far outweighs the other and I don’t know how my wife makes it all work month after month. (Thank god for that little Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that shows her where the money goes.)  Just my own example of how analytics can be a good friend to your family!

Analytics Helping Families in Communities

Another great example of analytics helping families, comes from the FII (Family Independence Initiative).  The Family Independence Initiative is a nonprofit, community-based organization that is considered an on-the-ground social laboratory for new strategies to tackle poverty.  FII trusts and invests directly in low-income families so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity.

Through data analytics, FII can provide direct feedback to families on progress towards their goals, allocate initiative-driven resources to accelerate the accomplishment of these goals, and track the impact.  Additionally, FII can engage outside stakeholders for the families to learn directly from other families and shift their investments, just as businesses do through market analysis.

FII has seen great success with a city near and dear to my heart—Detroit Michigan.  I grew up right outside of Detroit and have seen firsthand its rise and fall. In 2014, when FII launched in Detroit, the city had the highest percentage of people living in poverty of any major city in America. Today, FII-Detroit is quickly growing to become one of FII’s largest sites, second to Boston. Improving education, housing, and transportation are the key goals shared by the FII–Detroit families. Their family partners, who embody the gritty resilience of the city, continue to prove that investing in their self-determined solutions is among the most effective way to revive Detroit city.

As an example of their success:

  • Over $492K is the total estimated amount that FII families have exchanged through social capital activities like watching each other’s children, cooking for one another, lending money, and so on.
  • On average, during two years of engagement with FII, families report a 25% increase in monthly income.
  • On average, during two years of engagement with FII, families report an increase in their total liquid assets from less than $100 to just under $1,000.
  • On average, during two years of engagement with FII, families report an 81% decrease in subsidies such as TANF and SNAP.

As one member of the Family Independence Initiative put it: “There comes a time in everyone’s life when you finally say enough is enough! I feel this is my time to take control over my life and my finances and so therefore, I had to take that first step.”

To learn more about FII please visit their website.

Analytics Helping Families through the Government

While analytics can help families, it can also help our governments to support families in the proper wa

In San Bernardino County, California, for example, human services agents faced rising fraud issues in its CalFresh Program, which delivers what used to be called food stamps to low-income families. The team decided to introduce an analytics program to strengthen detection abilities and tested analytic models against existing data to find the strongest model. It then further refined algorithms to optimize the models.

When they put the analytics models into effect, the “hit rate” of identifying fraudulent cases moved from 6.1% to 20.8%, performing well beyond the county’s goal of increasing their hit rate by 10 percentage points. In addition, their new system identified fraud on average three months earlier than usual, and the project included a process to automate the collection of data, which previously had been a time-consuming manual process.

What about utilization of analytics for Child Welfare?  Up to $80 billion is spent annually across the U.S. to confront child abuse and neglec

Los Angeles County, with the largest child protective services agency in the country, believes there should be a better way to protect at-risk youth than the current outdated and costly approach. LA County is piloting the use of predictive analytics technology, to do a better job of identifying children who may otherwise be left in a vulnerable position.  Instead of case agents having to pick up the phone and call various government agencies to find out more information about the child in question, predictive analytics can streamline the process by retrieving all the relevant statistics from various government agencies (departments of health, education and corrections, for example)  and then importing that information into one database.

There’s even a new TV series call “Wisdom of the Crowd” which utilizes a crowd sourcing analytics to help solve crimes.

When You Think about It….

It’s amazing what analytics can do.  What it can do for business, do for government, do for YOU!

So just remember, the next time you’re “crunching” the numbers on your personal budget, that you’re the CEO / CFO of the best company out there—your family! And make sure you bring good analytics to help you, help them.

Resources:

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