By Ramy Sedra and Sumeet Pelia
Public sector organizations globally face increasing scrutiny. Citizens expect public services to be on par with what’s offered in the private sector. This means better digital experiences, greater transparency and improved efficiency.
To meet these expectations, governments are looking to transform their digital capabilities and how they interact with customers to deliver a seamless citizen-centric experience—whether in transit (public transport), education, public safety, health care or other services.
As the public sector becomes increasingly digitized, the data generated presents all public agencies with opportunities to draw deeper insights that they can use to design better services and deliver those services in a more efficient, timely and personalized way. Here we look at some ways in which analytics can help the public sector enable a better citizen experience, using public transit as an example.
Get valuable customer insights
Data is enabling more insight into how public transit customers use available services. Transit providers have smart cards and other digital transaction mechanisms that collect customer data, allowing them to tailor their current and future operations to what customers actually use and need. They can also augment those insights with external data sets (e.g. Google Maps and traffic patterns) to help customize services to the specific context and customers they’re trying to serve.
If it’s possible to understand how many passengers use transit on any given day, and where the delays will take place during the week, transit providers can make sure there’s enough supply to meet demand. This translates into shorter wait times, more people getting to their destinations on time and more willingness to use public transit.
Focus on the journey
As customers expect public transit agencies to deliver door-to-door journeys, new complexities emerge that require analysis of data points that weren’t previously explored by the transit agency. This includes data generated from the interoperability between transit networks in multiple jurisdictions - often a major challenge but also a great opportunity to improve services. This can help agencies make better decisions and forecast ways to make transit systems more convenient, thereby solving problems of regional mobility. Options could include partnering with ride sharing services, increasing parking lot sizes or adding bike sharing programmes.
Understand citizen behaviour
Customer profile and usage data enable data driven identification of behavioral segments. This insight can be used to identify customer behavioural patterns and trends. Combining behavioural science with data analytics helps public transit agencies put behavioural economics at the forefront of how they design, implement and track services.
Analytics can help uncover areas for potential interventions to nudge customer behaviour toward an optimal objective. For example, if you know only 5 out of 15 trains on a line tend to be full, behavioural economics can help you find ways to motivate customers to split their demand across all trains. It can also help you design impactful loyalty programs, determine price changes and much more—the applications are almost endless.
Optimise the use of resources to meet demand
As urban areas continue to grow, the demand for more frequent transit services and more regional mobility is increasing. At the same time, transit providers are facing operational cost pressures—they need to meet customer needs while also driving operational efficiency. By unlocking the power of data, agencies can get insights such as where the biggest transit demands are and whether resources are appropriately aligned to them. They then can focus resources on what’s most impactful to citizens. This enables transit providers to transform or streamline business processes by freeing resources and cutting costs while also creating better services.
Just as data and analytics enable public sector entities to improve the citizen experience in many ways, they also help them make better decisions in their own internal operations and delivery models (e.g. talent, process improvements and innovation). Ultimately, this helps public sector entities adapt, transform and differentiate themselves to deliver on citizen expectations and to effectively fulfil their public contract.
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