Provincie-Zuid Holland achieves better governmental transparency

Tableau: Tell us a little bit about how you’re using data at Provincie Zuid?
Jesper Van Loon, Policy Advisor: We are a public government, and in the middle level in between national and municipal. So our most power should come from information and knowledge. And that's where we need a lot of information.
Mathijs Van Niel, Policy Advisor: We've got all kind of datasets about housing, about traffic, and we make analysis from that. We also publish our dashboards in a BI portal so that the public and the inhabitants of the province, about 3.5 million people, can use the data as well.
Jesper: You have to think about housing problems, projecting future scenarios and development, the demographic development, and you have to project your economic analysis and your mobility analysis and all that into the mix, and provide people with the data to make their own decisions about those developments, and empower people with the right information.

Tableau: What sort of challenges were you facing that made you consider Tableau?
Jesper: The more questions you get, the harder it becomes to manage all that. And then we needed a tool to, well, handle it.
Mathijs: I think there are a lot of possible uses for Tableau. There is a lot of data available, only nobody can use it. Tableau can be a very useful tool to make the data public in an easy way.
Jesper: We actually know what we want with the data, and it's available, but it's far from structured. It sometimes differs from province to province or how you will get the data. And then it's very good to see that you can combine all those things and then use Tableau to integrate it and make sense out of it all. I think now we have a platform that is both more interactive, but it's also giving us the option to make it in to the data much faster. So we have managed to get the work that we did in Excel, for example, get it into Tableau and make it more interactive for ourselves as the analysts, and for the end user.

Tableau: Can you tell me a bit about your data?
Mathijs : It’s SQL database, it’s Excel, Access. Some Excel sheets are about 15 rows and three columns to big datasets about of the houses in the Netherlands — that's about millions of records.
Jesper: And you have all the geospatial formats like XML, GML files…Our experience is mainly coming from the geospatial kind of analysis, which is quite complex and you need to know a lot about programs. We saw that even on geospatial analysis, Tableau could cover quite a bit of what we wanted actually. So that's - that was a surprise to us, I think.
Mathijs : A pleasant surprise.

Tableau: How is sharing Tableau visualizations through your website going?
Jesper: Especially for those big datasets it's very useful — it's more powerful to present it with Tableau and put it on your website. We could make a relatively boring subject quite interesting while presenting it with Tableau.

Tableau: Well, we love hearing that! How is that going? Is it fairly easy to embed and maintain?
Mathijs: It has a big—a big impact. We made a website like this before, three years ago, and all of our graphics, graphs, maps, were all JPEGs. So we had to make the JPEGs, just put it on a website. It was a lot of work. And at this moment with Tableau, it's just embedded and you can change things in the dashboards and it changes on the real live page again.

Tableau: Great! What are you doing with the time that you’re saving?

People see that data can be interesting and lively, and that it's not a boring subject that you should do less and less of, but that you should invest in it.

Jesper: We don't plan less time than before, but what we immediately do is when we see that it works faster, we add more. So in the same window of time we have been able to get much more information in. And that's because of the efficiency we get. People see that data can be interesting and lively, and that—it's not a boring subject that you should do less and less of, but that you should invest in it.

Tableau: What would you do if you didn’t have Tableau?
Mathijs: If we didn’t have Tableau…
Jesper: We’d search for another job!
Mathijs: Yeah, I think it would be so much less fun to do—to be working on what we actually have to do now.