VDOT Uses Data Visualization to Help Jobseekers


The Virginia Department of Transportation is leveraging data visualization tools to help connect jobseekers to jobs in Virginia. Internally, the agency is also using visualizations to improve transit system service delivery, powered by Tableau a data visualization tool.

The agency first started using Tableau to analyze operations and crash events, and optimize the deployment of DOT assets. However, last summer, the Governor challenged state agencies to find new ways of using government data to improve outcomes for Virginia residents. Using Tableau, VDOT built an application that connects jobseekers to technology careers and resources. They used information such as location data on Virginia’s universities, the locations of open technology jobs, and LinkedIn data the state’s college graduates to paint an interactive picture in Tableau of the state’s tech workforce.

The application went on to win the state’s “datathon” competition, and internally more agencies are exploring how they can use Tableau for their work.

For the datathon, Donley and his team had 48 hours to stand up the application, which offers a range of information including “top ten lists” for jobseekers in Virginia. “With that amount of time, we immediately thought of Tableau,” explains Keith Donley, Assistant Division Administrator, Virginia Department of Transportation in an interview with CivSource. “I’d used Tableau before in other roles. Initially, VDOT started to use it with just ten instances but since then we’ve been able to prove its use at a broader level inside the agency.”

Donley is responsible for Enterprise Data Management in the Information Technology Division of VDOT.

Data visualizations are a key component to understanding data as open data grows within the public sector. Visualizations help non-technical people get a better grasp of what big excel spreadsheets full of information have to say. More and more, public sector agencies are exploring ways to use data visualizations, but few have been able to leverage these tools effectively. In the datathon, VDOT was noted for going beyond the scope of its agency, to create the jobseekers application.

Some of the agency’s crash data work is also available on Tableau Public, which allows users to offer public access to data and visualizations. “People are always surprised how easy it is to use, you can get a good visualization in just a few clicks,” Donley says.