Case Commons is a technology startup incubated and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), a private charitable organization dedicated to building better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. Case Commons has developed Casebook®, a unique web-based family information management platform grounded in social network concepts. The system enables frontline caseworkers serving vulnerable families and children to make better-informed decisions and focus on family outcomes. To begin building analytics tools into Casebook, Case Commons engaged OpenBI on an Analytics Jump Start.
The primary goal of the Jump Start was to provide an initial build of Casebook Analytics capabilities to prove analytics concepts, metric calculation logic and visualization methods. Case Commons also wanted to demonstrate the distinct advantages of Casebook’s underlying longitudinal data model. In accordance with Case Commons’ technology strategy, the Casebook Analytics team chose to apply open source technologies to implement the proof of concept. They wanted a flexible and configurable web-based system that could be used across large human services agencies. The system needed to:
- Help caseworkers and supervisors manage caseloads and better match services to family strengths, needs and risks.
- Provide managers and directors with tools for spotting patterns and understanding how to best allocate resources, deploy services and improve practice.
- Afford all users the opportunity to interact directly with data and share their insights and hypotheses.
OpenBI engaged in the development of a set of analytics tools that could serve the needs of multiple audiences and present information across cases, families and cohorts to illuminate patterns. The system combines multiple measures in single dashboard pages to show relationships between activities that may not be self-evident. The dashboard views serve as entry points to visualizing and interacting with datasets at various levels of aggregation, along with providing the ability to drill down to actionable case- and family-level detail. All of these capabilities include social features such as news feeds, favorites and followers.
Using the Pentaho BI Suite with Pentaho Data Integration as the data transformation engine, OpenBI built the Casebook Analytics proof of concept featuring an analytical data mart and a front-end dashboard application, including advanced charting, filtering and paneling. The application integrates a number of external open source graphics libraries for advanced visualizations, including the ability to analyze ‘trajectories’ of life events and services. The system is designed to empower frontline teams to make timely decisions that increase the safety, permanency and well being of the children they serve.
- Dashboard features robust, interactive charts -- including bar charts, tree diagrams and icicle plots -- allowing for better trend analysis and pattern recognition. Information is presented across cases/families/cohorts to help identify opportunities to not only conduct more in-depth program evaluations, but also take immediate action.
- Dashboard configuration allows users to select metrics relevant to their area of practice, thus serving the needs of multiple audiences (caseworker, supervisor, agency manager, researcher).
- Completely drillable diagrams allow for high-level visualization, along with the ability to drill down to operational case details.
- Multiple measures are integrated, as a set, into the single dashboard to allow for identification of relationships between activities that may not be otherwise evident. Readily accessible metrics metadata allows users to understand calculation logic, why a given metric is important to good practice, and how a trend relates to agency baselines and standards.
- The application is supported by a comprehensive analytical repository, allowing for more sophisticated calculations with the ability to call external statistics packages, such as R, for causal and predictive analysis.
- Integrated social networking features, such as comments, favorites and news feeds, encourage conversations about data and sharing of hypotheses about how to improve results.
“This is a big win for children and families. The data visualization capabilities and social features have sparked many an exciting conversation about how Casebook Analytics can help ‘turn the curve’ and make a big difference in family outcomes. The resulting Analytics proof of concept has been very well received by our funders and other partners. Working with OpenBI has been terrific! They brought not only technical smarts and industry knowledge, but also imagination and empathy, to a challenging assignment.” - Andrea Hollen, Director of Analytics & Research, Case Commons