Meet Prince George’s County CountyStat Manager Ben Birge

Meet Ben Birge, CountyStat manager for Prince George’s County, Maryland. He guides a team of analysts to improve service delivery in Prince George’s County through data. He helps the county staff collect data and then uses analysis to improve workflows and data sharing.

Early in his career at Prince George’s County, the performance management team joined his group. “Now we were joining the process improvement aspect of CountyStat with the budget justification process in the Office of Management and Budget.”

In response to this change, his team collected information on every process in the county and how data was involved in it, including the types of data, the frequency of collection, who owned it, who received reports on it, and more. That information on data was then used for the county’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, designed to uplift the most economically and public safety-challenged areas of the county.

Socrata has helped Birge and his team simplify and amplify their work. Initially, he saw it as a way to publish information but eventually saw it as a way to store and manipulate the data, as well. The TNI communities have especially enjoy seeing their data live.

“I did an orientation for one of these communities and they were so overwhelmed that they asked if they could get a password to use the website. They thought it was so sophisticated that only government insiders like me could use it. I told them it was so easy you can go on it like any newspaper website and click some buttons and do it yourself.”

He understood their enthusiasm, “We’re finally showing the community the dynamic data they’ve been requesting since we launched TNI in 2012.”

Birge also works with graduate students at local universities for their academic research. “I lecture at three universities in our state and they all want our data. In my perfect world, they’ll make connections between things I haven’t thought of and get in touch with us," says Birge. He also hopes more businesses start using the data to improve their operations.

He appreciates how the data can address needs in the community. “One of the most important issues in any community is crime. Telling someone that crime in their community is going down doesn’t work if their house was just broken into. Putting that data so everyone can see it online builds trust.”

Birge says that he is working to make the data portal’s value greater to internal staff. They’ve already launched Socrata Performance which is a step towards helping agencies work together and communicate their data and insights.

Hear all of Birge’s success stories and tactics in the full video.