On March 30, 2022, Mayor Kenney signed an executive order establishing the Office of Integrated Data for Evidence & Action (IDEA) within the Office of the Managing Director.

IDEA is new to Philadelphia, but integrated data is not. Philadelphia has two decades of experience linking records from across City departments to aid in planning, policymaking, evaluation, and the provision of services. In fact, Philadelphia was among the first municipalities in the U.S. to have such a system!

The formation of IDEA will expand Philadelphia’s data integration work and improve the City’s services and supports for residents. Here’s how:

Linking data tells a more complete story

Governments at all levels go to great lengths to administer programs designed to help people– and they collect a lot of data in the process. But sometimes a program in one part of government (like housing) can have an impact in another area (like health).

The reason for integrating data at the client-level is that we can look at all the touches an individual has with separate City agencies providing different services. This allows the City to generate a more complete picture of an individual’s unique situation, how they use multiple service systems, their outcomes, and the associated cross-agency costs. In contrast, aggregate data (like totals and averages) lack the specificity and connections needed to create the most effective policies and programs for health, education, safety, and more.

Faced with limited resources, we need to ensure that we maximize our success rate when serving our most vulnerable populations. It’s only when data from different parts of government are connected that the City can monitor, measure, and improve how well government entities serve the people.

Integrated data helps Philadelphia

When data from across City departments is linked together, City leadership can more effectively plan new services, understand who is benefiting from existing services and who is not, seek grants and other types of funding, and better connect Philadelphians to services.

Here are some examples of how the integrated data system has helped Philadelphians in the past:

  • Connecting children at risk of developmental delays to screening and services
  • Informing families with children about the Child Tax Credit, particularly those who do not usually file tax returns
  • Assisting with the enrollment of households into expanded Emergency Rental Assistance programs
  • Analyzing the characteristics and service histories of individuals arrested or killed as a result of gun violence to develop effective interventions
  • Monitoring the number and characteristics of youth in residential placements to reduce placement and disparities in placement
  • Planning and locating sites for PHLpreK funding and expansion

In every case, IDEA and the data users across City government ensure that the privacy of Philadelphians is protected with careful legal reviews and strict security protocols.

Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice has resources including short videos. Philadelphia is a part of their national network of integrated data sites.