Vermont Insights Survey Update

At the January 2018 State Advisory Council (SAC) meeting, Nick Adams, Director of Vermont Insights (VI), presented his findings on a recent data consumer need and usage survey.

VI, a program of Building Bright Futures (BBF), is an interactive data platform allowing users to find and access data about Vermont’s children, families, and communities. The platform has the ability to filter content by region and to customize data visualizations to meet user needs.

The survey Nick developed attempted to understand VI’s target audience, their data use, and their need for specific website features. Part of this process was to gain feedback from Vermonters within and outside of the early childhood field. For this reason, Nick gathered emails from 14,852 people in Vermont, more than half of which did not work specifically on child and family initiatives.

Those who received the survey were primarily employed by state government, universities, elementary schools, nonprofits, child care programs, news organizations, and beyond. The survey, which included a $100 gift card incentive (that did not use federal funds), was used to boost engagement. There were 1,329 total responses to the survey (a 9% response rate), which is considerably high given the extent of the sample.

The survey, which took approximately ten minutes to complete, was sent by email on January 4th, 2018. Two follow-up emails were sent on January 10th and on January 18th. It asked users to recall their data needs and usage over the past six months. Of all respondents, 38% were self-proclaimed regular data users.

Some of the survey findings included:

  • A fairly even divide on how often users need data (from daily or weekly to only few times in the past 6 months)
  • Users are primarily female, between the ages of 45-54
  • Users are primarily focused on finding data for ages birth to five
  • Users are interested in statewide, county, school, town, and AHS districts data
  • 18% of survey respondents get data from Vermont Insights. DCF, VDH, and AOE experienced more traffic.
  • 91% of users said they want interactive data—a selling point for Vermont Insights.
  • People stated that they are still having trouble accessing and finding the data that they need (not a problem exclusive to VI). People either don’t know where to look for data, or run into limited demographic detail, unavailable geographies, no recent data availability, poor data quality, or access rights.

Nick discussed how VI is currently a “closed” system, which does not connect users to data reporting efforts or content outside of the site. To meet data consumer need, Nick suggested VI become an “open and collaborative” system that is a search hub for all people looking for data about early childhood in the state. The idea would be for the platform to be fueled by users who could search for interactive data on VI, be directed to a partner website if we don’t have said data, or be able to submit a request for data if a such content does not yet exist.

To ensure ongoing flexibility and sustainability, Nick discussed how he will be working to migrate the VI website from a proprietary content management system to WordPress. Data visualizations will be developed using Tableau software, reducing development time and allowing the site to grow as the need for interactive content increases. A new version of Vermont Insights incorporating these changes will be released between May and June of 2018.

Members of the SAC had questions regarding sustainability and offered feedback on how they can assist with this project moving forward. The group was excited for these changes and were impressed by both the presentation and results from the survey.

David Young, Superintendent of South Burlington, noted that the best thing the SAC can do to support VI is to use the system. By modeling and pushing the system to others, we will provide value to both our taxpayers and to our community.

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