Data Science in Government: How We Work with the Public Sector

By Amy Deora


We work with a wide variety of clients, but at the end of the day our mission is the same across all sectors: use science to help organizations find, understand and connect with their audiences in the most efficient and effective way possible. In the private sector, companies may focus on a highly targeted audience that is likely to buy products or services. But government has the obligation to serve all citizens, even those that might be harder to reach or less likely to engage. As a result, governments need to use data across agencies to understand exactly how citizens are engaging different services, and how to reach those who don’t engage at all.

We work with clients at all levels of government, including Federal and state agencies, and cities and county governments. Some of the most common problems we’re helping these groups solve are:

Marketing a product or service

The need to market a product or service isn’t limited to private companies. We help the National Flood Insurance Program optimize their Flood Insurance marketing campaign, and we work with the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office to encourage participation in their college savings investment plans.

Find populations at risk, or those that require outreach

Civis empowers public sector organizations to change the way they interact with citizens, increasing their power to make substantive change across communities. Civis specifically focuses on identifying key populations of interest, and determining which interventions are most likely to impact those populations. For example, we are helping local government and community-based organizations in New York City locate residents that are likely eligible for benefits like SNAP or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but are not accessing those programs. The City of Houston is working with Civis to identify the population still in need after Hurricane Harvey, and to better understand and track unmet needs.

This notebook was used to clean assessor data and better understand the impact of Hurricane Harvey on buildings and residents for the City of Houston.
This map shows the depth of flooding due to Hurricane Harvey in the City of Houston.

Make data science teams more efficient

Many local governments are just getting started with data integration and data science. Just as countries that developed infrastructure relatively late skipped the landline and went straight to cell phones, local governments are going straight to cloud-based open source data analytics or business intelligence, making Civis Platform an extremely helpful tool for those teams.

We are proud to help our public sector partners serve their constituents using the same advanced tools and technologies as our private sector clients. In fact, it’s reflected in our name — “Civis” means “citizen” in Latin.