CivicLabNorfolk: 2020 Annual Report, 2021 Strategic Plan

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CivicLab Mission: We believe a citywide culture of collaboration and datainformed decision-making is crucial to Norfolk’s success. Our mission is to facilitate this organizational culture by advancing three focus areas: • Catalyze citywide culture change to improve collaboration, transparency, and trust. • Connect staff and residents with data required to make informed decisions. • Create tools and provide training to encourage data analysis, efficient processes, and measurable progress.

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR CivicLab (CL) kicked off in September 2019 with the primary goal to improve data-informed decisionmaking in Norfolk. As we start the New Year, it is a good time to reflect on what CL has accomplished and where we are going. I am happy to share this annual report, detailing the work CL has done over the past 15 months, as well as a strategic plan that maps our future. This past year has been both eventful and transformational. I am proud that even in our first year CL was able to adapt and successfully navigate the changes brought by COVID-19. In fact, in response to this challenge, we created a public facing COVID impacts data dashboard to track and understand the effects of the pandemic on our community. We also supported several internal efforts for city reopening and vaccine planning. Agile Team Norfolk, another CL program, was nimble…or should I say agile…and seamlessly transitioned Agile training, and support of Agile Alumni, to a virtual environment. Thank you to Old Dominion University School of Public Service for partnering with CL to deliver this high-impact training. CL could not have accomplished so much without assistance. We are fortunate to have tremendous support from the City Manager’s Office, the City Data Leadership Committee and the Department of Budget and Strategic Planning. We are also thankful to our

external partners at What Works Cities, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, the Harvard Kennedy Government Performance Lab, and the Behavioral Insight Team. I also want to acknowledge the Sunlight Foundation, which closed its doors earlier this year, but was a driving force behind the establishment of our Open Data program and the recent release of our live tide gauge data (for more about these partners, turn to the back cover). Are you interested in joining in the mission of CivicLab? If you are member of Team Norfolk, consider joining our Data Champions team. Or, if you have a sticky challenge – CL can assist with data analysis, research, and our innovative spirit! If you are a community member, check out our new City Data page and the Open Data portal, both accessible via Or you can contact us directly (details on the back cover). Thank you for taking the time to review CivicLab’s Annual Report and Strategic Plan. We look forward to working together in 2021 and beyond! All the best, Pete


Offered by CivicLabNorfolk

Support to Team Norfolk falls into two categories: DATA MANAGEMENT

Norfolk’s civic data is a strategic asset. CivicLab helps employees, residents and business owners understand and harness this asset. Our data management offerings include: Data Analytics – Analyzing the city’s data assets to support data-informed decision-making and create valuable insights. Data Consultation – Helping departments build data models, perform data analytics, and investigate new technologies. Data Governance – Developing citywide policies, practices and standards for data creation, data sharing and data usage. Data Science – Learning from the city’s data using intelligent algorithms and large, complex data models. Data Storytelling – Combining datasets, words, images, and video to provide context and meaning to data. Open Data – Offering free and easy public access to data and information about our city. Norfolk’s Open Data Portal sparks innovation, encourages community collaboration and improves transparency.


CivicLab offers city staff the tools and training necessary to develop efficient processes and measure progress. Our performance improvement offerings include: Agile – Providing employees with the tools and principles to identify problems and implement solutions that improve the quality and efficiency of our organization. Performance Management – Partnering with city leaders to establish and measure performance metrics which provide both publicfacing accountability measures and measures for day-to-day program management. Strategic Planning – Assisting citywide departments and agencies in developing strategic plans and measuring progress toward meeting plan goals.

CivicLabNorfolk TEAM MEMBERS

Since its kick-off in September 2019, the CivicLab team has made great strides by supporting programs already in place or assisting other departments with projects. Everything we tackle falls into one of our three areas of focus: Catalyze. Connect. Create. The next four pages detail CivicLab’s accomplishments since our inception.

CATALYZE CL worked to catalyze citywide culture change by leading or supporting these projects and teams:

• What Works Cities (WWC): Norfolk’s membership in WWC provided the opportunity to participate in several programs: o WWC Site Visit: In February

2020, WWC returned to Norfolk to re-engage with city staff. CL hosted two half-day work sessions attended by staff from across the city. WWC led discussions about resultsdriven contracting, focusing on resident needs, and the path to WWC certification which is considered a road map to best practices. o WWC Eviction Sprint: CL, along with several

other city departments and local non-profits, participated in a sprint on eviction and proactive rental inspection. This sprint has evolved into an ongoing effort citywide to address the high eviction rates in Norfolk. Upon completion, three subcommittees were formed to continue the work; CL participates in the data subcommittee and will assist with managing and analyzing data on eviction and its underlying causes in Norfolk.

o The Behavioral Insight Team (BIT): Partnering with

the Office of Communications, CL worked with BIT to explore methods to improve response rates to a survey designed to learn how Norfolk’s increase in remote workers, in response to the pandemic, has affected service delivery to residents. • Interdepartmental Data Teams: One sure way to catalyze cultural change is to lead teams that are formed to do just that. CivicLab leads three teams with core missions to promote and manage citywide data at various levels of the city: o City Data Team: Staff from the

departments of IT, Communications, Budget (CL) and Finance serve on this team. Meeting twice a month, this team tackles a variety of data management issues including data governance, transparency, open data and data storytelling. This team also provides input and assistance in managing the other citywide data teams. o Data Leadership Committee: Comprised of leaders

representing every city department, this committee assists the City Data Team in making decisions about data creation, curation and transparency citywide. Other committee responsibilities include providing input on data governance policy as well as recommending and approving datasets for inclusion in the Open Data Portal.

COMMUNICATE the value of data in an approachable way.

o Data Champions: The employees on this team

are considered the go-to staffers for details about data their department manages. This network of “data champions” has expanded to more than 50 members and includes staff from all city departments. CL, in partnership with the IT GIS leadership team, hosts frequent meetings or share updates to engage the Champions in emerging technologies, in datathons and with each other to drive cultural change. In 2020, a COVID-related data analysis contest was introduced; staff from Slover Library won for their analysis of changes in library circulation trends due to the pandemic. • Data Governance: Data governance is a set of practices that help the city maximize the value of our data, while minimizing the risk of misuse. In 2020, CL launched a formal data governance structure and put in place a data classification guide and guidelines around publishing sensitive data. We have also begun the process of inventorying all city data assets. • Technology Recommendations: CL has identified technologies that Norfolk must adopt to grow our data and analytical capabilities such as: SharePoint, Power Automate, cloud analytics, artificial intelligence, enterprise business intelligence and realtime web-based data access (APIs).

A narrower focus of Catalyze, communicating the value of data, is another important function of CivicLab. These outreach tools could not have been developed without the invaluable assistance from the Office of Communications. • Data Storytelling: Using charts, photographs, videos and written narrative, this tool helps people understand the meaning of data. CL has made a commitment to include a data story with every new dataset posted to the Open Data portal. Our data stories can be found here: or turn to the visual storytelling section of this report for an example. • Website & Portal Improvements: o City Data Webpage – CL staff worked with Communications staff to create a new city data webpage that provides links to public data from a variety of city departments. The goal of the webpage is to capture all public data sources the city provides in one location: o Open Data Portal Refresh – CL staff revamped the portal homepage to make it easier to navigate and more visually appealing, with an emphasis on our data storytelling tools. Check it out at o Introductory Video Remake – An updated welcome video helps new visitors to Norfolk’s Open Data portal get started. Find it at under featured content. o Dataset Announcements – Newly posted datasets are now featured prominently on the front page of Norfolk’s home page: • Enhanced Media and Public Outreach: Norfolk announces each new dataset posted to the Open Data portal with a media release, social media support and a featured highlight on the homepage of Norfolk’s website.

o COVID-19 Dashboard – CL developed this dashboard to leverage city and federal data to communicate how the city is changing rapidly due to the pandemic. This dashboard tracks COVID-19, public safety, economic indicators, and city operations; it was made public so that residents could also study the impact of the pandemic and see the key metrics the City is tracking during the pandemic. o Facilities Optimization – Working with the budget team, CL developed a potential recreation center and library strategy that could transform our current system to an optimized system that offers combination facilities in fewer locations. The analysis was done by optimizing equity, offerings and services, given the city’s limited budget.

CONNECT CivicLab achieved this goal by leading and supporting these projects and teams:

• Data Analytics and Consultation: City leadership and Norfolk residents often want to take a deeper look at an issue. CL expeditiously responds to these requests using data to provide insights. Detailed below are some of the data analytics projects or consultations we tackled: o Food Deserts – After the closing of Save-A-Lot near downtown Norfolk, CL provided an analysis of important demographics, including population, income, and vehicle accessibility surrounding the immediate area of recent grocery stores that have closed. The data was used in a CNN story about the store’s closing. o Internet Access – CL provided a comprehensive analysis of the geographic and socioeconomic relationships to low internet access in the Norfolk. This analysis was provided to IT staff, who used the data to formulate a plan to provide and/or boost City Wi-Fi hotspots in areas of greatest need. o Enterprise Zone Activity – CL performed a geospatial analysis to identify all businesses and permits with activity in Enterprise Zones over the past year. o Hampton Blvd Traffic Study – Responding to community concerns, the Hampton Blvd Advisory Committee requested that CL continue the traffic safety data analysis along this corridor. The analysis identified safety issues and allowed for the evaluation of policy changes.

o Planning Permits Dashboard – The Planning Department relies heavily upon the Permits Monthly Report to track and analyze permits, units and project costs. CL collaborated with Planning staff to create an automated process and a dashboard to search and visualize the data. o City-Owned Vacant Properties – Norfolk staff has struggled for years to accurately report all city-owned properties that are vacant or sellable. CL formed a working group staffed by technical experts from across the city to automate the identification of these properties, review the City’s property inventory and recommend next steps for vacant parcels. o Fleet Analysis – Partnering with Fleet Management, CL created a dashboard to analyze our inventory of over 2000 assets (vehicles and equipment). This dashboard helps project future fleet budgets and asset replacement schedules. The data is in the Open Data Portal also. o Budget Shock – Staff from the City Manager’s Office and CL collaborated to code, develop and implement machine learning models to predict revenues during and after the COVID shutdown. This analysis assisted with the FY2020 and FY2021 budget development process that was significantly affected by this crisis. • Open Data: CL has continued to grow the city’s open data portal known as NorfolkOpenData. Launched in 2018, the portal offers a variety of data that is available to the public anytime, free of charge. Currently, there are 44 datasets in the portal and more are added frequently. This year, staff also created an automated open data architecture to automatically refresh datasets in the portal in near real time. This upgrade reduced the need to manually refresh datastreams, saving an estimated 20 hours of staff time each week and creating a documented process for continuity. To check out NorfolkOpenData, visit

• Startup in Residence (STIR): CL shepherded this program that connected technology companies with city staff to co-develop solutions for specific city challenges. To date, two tech companies have benefited from this program, designing products expected to launch in Spring 2021. o ARDX - Developed, an online resource to help entrepreneurs start and grow a business in Norfolk. The site provides an interactive guide to business plan development, financial planning resources and links to additional support. o Civis Analytics - Built a digital resource, called the Norfolk Flood Risk Learning Center, designed to communicate flood risk to homeowners.

CREATE Since its inception, CL has created and

provided these tools and training to help staff become more agile and efficient: • Agile Team Norfolk: In 2018, Norfolk launched Agile to offer training to city employees at all levels with the goal of fostering a culture of innovation that is customer focused, team oriented and data informed. The skills taught during training equipped employees to identify and eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and create a higher standard of government service. Agile is offered in partnership with Old Dominion University and is taught by university faculty and Norfolk employees who have completed Agile training. By the end of 2020, 540 employees across 29 departments and offices had completed training.

• Performance Management: Performance management is key to an organization striving to make data informed decisions. A three-year plan is underway to adopt program budgeting; the development of a program catalog to provide impact and effectiveness measures for every program is part of this process. • Research Assistance: CL staff have been called upon to assist with city wide research projects including: o Home Occupations – Based on City Council interest, the City Planning Department requested assistance in researching best practices for home occupations and as a possible response to COVID closures. A review of literature and collection of data from select localities was performed and the recommendations have been forwarded to City Council. o Homelessness – The Community Services Board asked CL to identify best practices and program alternatives for addressing chronic homelessness. • Strategic Planning: In early 2020, the authors of the draft Norfolk Strategic Plan (crafted by staff under a previous city manager) met to re-ignite the process. Unfortunately, with the onset of COVID, this work was paused. Nonetheless, CL continued to support departmental strategic planning; the Commission on Arts and Humanities, Keep Norfolk Beautiful and the Office of Communications all received assistance. • GovEx Pop Up Meetings: GovEx, an affiliate of What Works Cities, held two half-day training sessions at Slover Library in October 2019. The sessions were open to Norfolk city staff as well as staff from other municipalities in the Hampton Roads region. Three courses were offered: Problem Solving Using Data and Analytics, Exploring Performance Measures and Data Storytelling. (To learn more about GovEx, turn to the back cover).

DATA STORIES Staff from Norfolk’s Office of

Communications partners with CL to create data stories for many of the datasets in the Open Data portal. Using charts, photographs and written narrative, these stories help visitors to the portal understand and interpret the data. Two of our most popular stories are included here. Find all our stories at Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center: A safe haven for all animals in the city of Norfolk. The Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center is an open-admission shelter -- animals are never turned away, regardless of species, age, health, or temperament. NACC’s efforts focus solely on local animals in need. NACC cares for 400 to 600 animals each month, and more than 5,000 animals each year.

Reuniting furry family members with their loved ones. NACC provides many services to animals and residents. Staff at NACC help lost pets return home through microchipping and with facial recognition technology through a partnership with Finding Rover, implemented in 2019. In the last year, staff has worked hard to increase the number of animals that return to their homes. Through November 2019, 856 dogs were reunited with their families, an increase of 10 percent. Nearly 120 cats returned home thanks to our staff, an increase of 103 percent. We find loving fur-ever homes for adoptable animals. We strive toward positive outcomes for all of the healthy, adoptable animals that come to our shelter. About 39 percent of animals that came to NACC in the last year found happiness with new families. In the last year, hard work by NACC staff has resulted in a nearly 9 percent increase in the numbers of dog adoptions from NACC. Cat adoptions increased by more than 11 percent. Expanding local partnerships. NACC worked tirelessly in the last year to strengthen

its partnerships with other animal care organizations such as the Norfolk SPCA in order to increase adoption opportunities. NACC received help from 53 total organizations; 15 organizations have taken 5 or more animals over the past two years, while 38 have taken 4 or less. NACC established new partnerships with the Lynchburg Humane Society, the Richmond SPCA and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. These new and stronger partnerships allowed NACC to boost its transfer rate by nearly 108 percent for dogs through November 2019, and by nearly 18 percent for cats. More to come! The year 2020 brings more exciting changes to NACC! In January 2020, NACC expanded its evening hours, staying open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to provide additional adoption opportunities. Additionally, NACC plans to purchase its first-ever mobile adoption unit to bring adoptable animals directly into Norfolk neighborhoods!

CARL’S CAT Meet Gryffindor! Carl Larsen works as a data analyst helping to support the City of Norfolk’s Open Data team -- the employees who work to provide public data sets in this space. In November 2019, Carl began to work on a new dataset -information on all the animals at the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center. When Carl reviewed the data from NACC, he decided to investigate his own feline friend! Following the paw prints. Carl filtered the dataset by Gryffindor’s original name from the shelter, as well as the outcome date (when he and his wife adopted the cat) sex and breed. Then, Carl reviewed all rows in the dataset associated with his cat’s animal ID number. SURPRISE! The Larsens are Gryffindor’s FIFTH family! Their cat was once a stray, brought to NACC by animal control officers! Now the Larsens know: Gryffindor really IS so happy to live with them! And maybe his history explains why he seems a little needy from time to time.

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Catalyze citywide culture change to improve collaboration, transparency and trust


1.1 Enhance impact of Data Champions Team 1. Host meetings six times a year that include one guest speaker, one mini-training and one new resource 2. Host one half-day intensive training with assistance from an external partner 3. Create a tiered training program for the Data Champions 1.2 Engage citywide leadership in the management of city data via the Citywide Data Leadership Committee 1. Host 10 meetings a year 2. Bring 15 datasets before the committee for approval 3. Present and gain approval of data governance guidelines at half the meetings 1.3 Create data stories to help explain data posted in the Open Data Portal 1. Create a data story for 80% of datasets that are posted in the Open Data portal 2. Create a data story to describe how to use the Open Data portal 1.4 Develop data governance and best practices 1. Develop complete guidelines for the public and internal dissemination of data 2. Maintain at least 100 data inventory items composed of entries from at least 80% of departments 1.5 Receive What Works Cities certification Become certified by What Works Cities

GOAL 3 Create tools and provide training to encourage data analysis, efficient processes and measurable progress

2.1 Complete Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Projects Complete at least two projects that make use of machine learning 2.2 Continue producing data analytics projects to allow for data-informed decision making citywide Complete at least three major data analytics projects 2.3 Continue providing data consultation to departments across the city Provide assistance on at least five data consultation requests 2.4 Continue expansion of Open Data 1. Increase portal visitors by 10% 2. Add at least 10 new datasets to the Open Data portal 3. Complete data quality checks for all datasets in the portal 4. Host and/or participate in two public events to introduce the public to Open Data and the city’s public data resources 2.5 Shepherd technology pilots that increase transparency and improve efficiency citywide Pilot at least two cloud-based data technologies efforts 2.6 Assist with Program Budgeting Coach departments to help them create at least one outcome / impact measure for each program for the FY 2023 budget

3.1 Continue the momentum created by Agile 1. Post ten Agile process stories from Academy graduates each year on the Agile webpage to showcase examples of what has been done across the city 2. Coordinate at least three Agile trainings and two alumni trainings per year with attendance of at least 12 employees for each training and 25 for alumni sessions 3.2 Work with internal and external partners to bring data analytics and data storytelling training to city employees 1. Host a training session to teach art of creating data stories 2. Host a training session to explore all the public data sources available 3. Coordinate with IT software trainer to develop further synergy 3.3 Assist departments with strategic planning Assist at least one organization per year in developing a written multi-year strategic plan to guide their programs 3.4 Encourage performance management By FY23, develop a platform that departments can use to enter both management and strategic measures that will generate reports at least once a year. 3.5 Assist departments or senior management with project research Assist with at least two in-depth research projects annually which draw upon current literature to inform decision making

Partnerships & Awards What Works Cities Partnership Norfolk is honored to be a part of What Works Cities (WWC) since March 2017. WWC is a national initiative designed to help 100 mid-sized cities enhance their use of data to improve services, inform local decision-making and engage residents. As a result of our WWC designation, Norfolk has had the opportunity to receive pro bono assistance from these WWC partners: • Behaviorial Insight Team focuses on evaluating programs and processes to improve outcomes related to resident and client behavior. • Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, better known as GovEx, is dedicated to helping governments effectively use data to make informed decisions on services that improve people’s lives. • Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab conducts research on how governments can improve the results they achieve by providing technical assistance to state and local governments with a focus on results driven contracting. • The Sunlight Foundation was a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocated for open government. (This organization, recognizing that other organizations had picked up the mantle, closed in 2020 after 15 years.) ELGL Award CivicLab Director wins ELGL 2020 Traeger Award recognizing top influencers in local government. Pete Buryk, CivicLab’s director, came in at #17 out of 100 top influencers in local government recognized annually each December by ELGL. The Traeger award is not based on longevity or title. Rather, it is based on an individual’s influence in their community as well as in their profession through professional associations, mentoring, and writing. The award is named for Chris Traeger, the city manager for the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana on the show “Parks and Recreation,” who is known for his boundless energy and stalwart commitment to improving local government. ELGL, an acronym for Engaging Local Government Leaders, is a national professional organization whose mission is to engage local government practitioners by providing timely and relevant content through a variety of communication tools with the objective of fostering authentic and meaningful connections that are grounded in practices of equity and inclusion.


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