Answering the Call of Duty

We have just wrapped up our second week working with the United Way of Metro Atlanta’s 211 Call Center (for more information on the 211 call center, check out last week’s blog post!).  This past week has been very productive and given us more insight into the problem we’re trying to solve this summer.


After analyzing some of the sample data we gathered last week, we decided to collect more data about abandoned calls.  Looking at the data from the past few months, we noticed that there are a few numbers that have called hundreds of times a month.  We will notify the 211 director of this issue.


Our main goal for the summer is to analyze the data to make a menu that benefits both the callers and the agents.  The current menu is pictured below.  Currently, the menu is long and repetitive with some inaccurate prompts.  Some of the improvements we hope to make on the caller’s end are condensing the information, taking out the repetitive sections, and allowing repeat callers to skip information they already know.

Call tree

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to experience the other end of calls by listening to agents handle calls.  This was very beneficial, as it allowed us to see what agents do for each call and what they would like to be improved.  The biggest potential improvement involves data entry.  All of the information gathered is manually entered by the agent while they are on the phone.  Agents have to rush to input the caller’s age, zip code, insurance status, employment information, and more while trying to find the best organizations to handle the callers’ needs. A way we hope to improve this is having callers input numerical data (phone number, age, zip code, etc.) and yes/no questions (veteran status, insurance status, etc.) before the call is connected to the agent.

Getting to Know DSSG-ATL

Hi, everyone! My name is Becca Berge, and I am another one of this summer’s DSSG interns. For my project, I am working with Kyle Shaffer (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), José Sotelo (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México), and Justin Squirek (Georgia State University) on a project using data from an app called Cycle Atlanta. But more about that later.

A little about me: I graduated from Emory University (this month!) with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Political Science.


(In the picture: I’m the grad on the right.)

I came to Atlanta three years ago from a suburb of Seattle, Washington (by Microsoft), and my town is a wonderful place for bicyclists. Growing up, many of my neighbors used the Sammamish River Trail or the Burke Gilman to commute to work – it wasn’t unusual to be stopped at an intersection behind a group of cyclists.

It’s harder for cyclists to get around Atlanta. But that’s where Cycle Atlanta comes in. The app was developed at Georgia Tech by a team led by Dr. Kari Edison Watkins and Dr. Chris Le Dantec, and constitutes one part of the Cycle Atlanta: Phase 1.0 study, a supplement to the Connect Atlanta Plan created by the City of Atlanta Departments of Planning and Community Development. Data from app users helps city planners address the needs of cyclists in the city, from expanded infrastructure to facilities like drinking fountains or bathrooms along heavily-traveled routes.

One of my goals for this summer is to begin commuting to and from Georgia Tech by bicycle. Despite being a little daunted at the prospect of riding a bike down Ponce de Leon Avenue during the morning rush hour, I am excited by the possibility of joining a community of bike riders and urban cycling advocates in the Atlanta metro area.

At this point, our group is working to make data collected by the app more usable. Next, we will analyze the data. My role in this project is somewhat unique: While my teammates have worked with raw data in programs like Python and R and developed an interface, my major contributions will be in the next stage of the project, when we begin analysis.

Last Friday, we met with Leslie Caceda, Program Manager of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) to discuss the progress of urban bicycle advocacy in Atlanta. One great outcome of that meeting was that we learned about Mayor Kasim Reed’s public ride with ABC from City Hall to the Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park, an event scheduled for the next day. Three of us (José, Justin, and myself) took part in the ride. Mr. Reed spoke about his commitment to expanded bicycle infrastructure in the city with the aim of celebrating National Bike Month and Atlanta’s recent selection as Green Lane Project city by PeopleForBikes. Mr. Reed was also presented with a (very nice) donated bike, which, to his surprise, he was expected to actually ride with the event attendees immediately after the conclusion of his speech.

The bike community here is friendly and open, and the event post-speech consisted of plenty of photo ops and a leisurely 3-mile ride from the Capitol to ABC’s Bike Valet service, which was set up just inside Piedmont Park at the corner of 10th and Monroe.

Reed   Biker   GA bike capitol

(Above, left to right: Mayor Kasim Reed poses with Rebecca Cerna of ABC, and others; a friendly event attendee with his prototypical bicycle; the crowd assembling at the Capitol pre-event.)