By Eric Roche, Chief Data Officer, City Manager’s Office of Performance Management
Today we are kicking the tires on a new, at least to us, visualization tool called streamgraphs. This type of visualization is not as straightforward as our typical bar charts. We often use simpler charts and graphs because of the need for them to work on paper as well as online. With streamgraphs, we can add more complexity because we know that they are only published online.
Streamgraphs are interesting because they are interactive. Letting our audiences play with the data is more engaging for them and enables us to add more complexity to the chart.
Let’s take a look at our office’s first streamgraph, inspired by the work Andrew Nicklin has done using 311 data from other cities. Here is a year’s worth of Kansas City’s 311 data in a streamgraph. Note that this chart only displays the top 10 request types to KCMO’s 311 Action Center.
As you can see in the chart, property violations drive the majority of 311 service requests and have a seasonal aspect to them. Many of these requests are for weeds that have grown too tall. The graph reflects that these types of requests happen during rainy and sunny months.
Additionally, you can see what an impact missed trash or recycling pickup has on our call center in the months of December and August. Residents calling 311 are what alerted us to some larger solid waste issues that have since been worked through with the City’s contractor. Today, service levels are back to normal.
Not to be outdone by our friend Andrew, we wanted to look at our busiest day of the week, Monday. It’s not surprising that we get a lot of calls on Mondays since the 311 Call Center is not open on the weekends. We reached out to our friends at Code for Kansas City, our local Code for America Brigade (CFA), for help with this exercise.
First, we ran the data to figure out what the call volume of an average Monday looks like. Then we handed the raw data off to Joel at Code for KC who created the visualization below. Please note how much prettier it looks than our visual. Our office is quite jealous of Joel’s data visualization skills.
Requests that come in via Twitter, email, or through our app are timestamped whenever someone sends them in. That’s why you see some requests before 7AM and after 7PM, which are the times when the 311 Call Center opens and closes for the day. Generally, people seem eager to call in their requests on Monday mornings. Call volume fades throughout the day, especially between 3-5PM. Around 6PM there is a significant spike in calls as people report any trash or recycling that wasn’t picked up that day. These requests come in during the early evening and then abruptly diminish.
As expected, the bulk of the 311 requests on Mondays are for property code violations. Unexpectedly, code violations flow in throughout the evening. I’m usually asleep by midnight, but some enterprising individuals are out submitting code violations requests at that time.
Many cities 311 datasets are available to play with if you are interested.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me @KansasCityEric on Twitter. Also, I highly encourage you to come hang out with us at Code for KC sometime!
Code used for this project is available here: https://github.com/KCMO/311StreamgraphsKCMO
Data used for this project is available here: https://data.kcmo.org/311/311-Call-Center-Service-Requests/7at3-sxhp