Connecting "super utilizers" with what they need

In 2013, 84% of the Long Beach Fire Department’s calls were of a medical nature, and the number of calls keeps growing. Since the 1970s, medical calls have increased 1,200%. Many of the emergency calls were coming from the same addresses- “super-utilizers” who were calling 911 a disproportionate amount of the time. That year, 52% of emergency medical calls (more than half) came from just 10% of the addresses.

In cities around the country, super-utilizers have a major impact on emergency medical services. These calls are expensive, and can divert the response team’s attention from people who need immediate help the most.

In partnership with Code for America fellows, the City developed AddressIQ. This tool was used to share data across previously siloed city departments, which allowed city staff to gain a more complete picture where residents in need were living. With this data, the City could ultimately help reduce unnecessary 911 calls and prevent costly, high intervention services.

<p>Screenshot from the AddressIQ dashboard.</p>

Screenshot from the AddressIQ dashboard.

What’s especially exciting about this app is that it actually has the potential to improve health outcomes and really get the most out of every dollar of our public safety budget.

— Mayor Robert Garcia, City of Long Beach

You have to know them

Long Beach leaders had a theory: if they understood why some residents were making frequent calls to 911, and how they could provide people with more appropriate resources, they could identify ways to make these places safer for the people who lived there. Given the costs of these services, helping super-utilizers even a little bit would have a huge financial impact. And it would mean better outcomes for the people going to the emergency room.

The City of Long Beach approached Code for America for help. At the time, the City was collecting data about city addresses, but there was no way to see if high-utilizing addresses overlapped across the Fire Department, the Police Department, Code Enforcement, and the Health Department. As a result, it was hard to identify where small, targeted interventions could have the most impact.

This is really going to help give a much clearer picture of all the data in all our various systems so that we can be more efficient in trying to address some of these properties.

— Tom Modica, Assistant City Manager at City of Long Beach

The City wanted to be able to analyze all of this data in an easy, readable format and then use it to quickly make decisions about helping people in need. The team developed a dashboard called AddressIQ to help city staff collaborate across departments and act on the data.

AddressIQ has provided staff with the ability to quickly and easily access data across departments. By breaking down these silos, city staffers are able to get a clearer picture of where 911 calls are coming from. With this information, they can coordinate cost-effective ways to provide these addresses (and the people at them) with the resources they needed and prevent the problems from arising in the first place.