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U.S. Governments Turn Data into Insights to Deal with Equity Issues

When it comes to the quest for an equitable distribution of services in states and localities as well as diversity and inclusion in their workforces, the specifics of the challenge varies from place to place. But one common theme has emerged: In order to truly understand the problems that need to be solved, leaders must have the necessary data in hand.

The study of city, county and state data informs leaders not just how taxpayer money is spent, but also how it is raised and how it is invested in neighbourhoods. It also is needed to determine whether government employees, high-level officials, board members and vendors reflect the demographic composition of the entity and are equitably compensated.

Data allow us to better understand how the city and the community at large can contribute to a sense of belonging for residents and employees.

– Farris Muhammad, Director of Equity and Inclusion

The first step, of course, is determining where inequities exist. In Akron, Ohio, for example, a procurement report was released in June 2020, which found that only 5% of the money spent on city contracts in 2019 had gone to minority-owned businesses, although 30% of its population is Black.

Findings like that have limited power unless they are the triggers for action. Akron’s discovery led to the creation of a new position to work on contract compliance and supplier diversity, with Sheena Fain, an entrepreneur with substantial private sector experience, taking the position in March 2021.

To locate new potential vendors, she created lists of minority businesses. With the help of several private companies, she then organised classes to provide information about competing on city contracts and how to go about being certified as potential minority contractors. A new vendor management system was installed creating a more open and transparent bidding process.

Many cities and counties have similar stories to tell with data pushing governments to integrate new equity goals into strategic plans and introduce new tactics to remove past barriers. In Dubuque, Iowa, for example, an analysis of demographic data on student enrollment in AP courses in high school found disproportionately few Black students taking AP courses.

In Iowa, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque put together an annual “data walk”  to provide a central spot where residents, community groups, government employees, nonprofits and other interested parties could examine and discuss key data points on different topics. Among the topics in 2021 and 2020 were employment and equity and racial equity.

One other promising tool was recently introduced through a partnership between the Government Alliance on Race and a software firm that specialises in geographic information system software, location intelligence and mapping. The new social equity analysis tool provides a geospatial mapping approach that can be used to visualise areas of focus, evaluate the community-level impact and guide government decision making. It will enable governments to use an intersectional lens to identify patterns of need and opportunities to enhance equity through an examination of geography, race, ethnicity, disability, gender and other areas of interest.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the justice system, banks, and private companies use algorithms to make decisions that have profound impacts on people’s lives. Unfortunately, those algorithms are sometimes biased — disproportionately impacting people of colour as well as individuals in lower-income classes when they apply for loans or jobs, or even when courts decide what bail should be set while a person awaits trial.

U.S. researchers have developed a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming language that can assess the fairness of algorithms more exactly, and more quickly, than available alternatives. Their Sum-Product Probabilistic Language (SPPL) is a probabilistic programming system.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,800 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service. For more information, visit www.ibm.com