Data-Driven Decision Making: Las Vegas Gets Results

Employing data-driven decision making, Las Vegas, Nevada, has prioritized sustainability and traffic safety projects, including investments in solar energy and improvements in the city's most dangerous intersections.

ARTICLE | Apr 12, 2016
Solar projects in Las Vegas have resulted in significant dollar savings and helped the city become a national leader in sustainability.

Not long ago, Las Vegas, Nevada, City Manager Elizabeth (Betsy) Fretwell wrote a guest article for the Route Fifty online publication describing how the city’s data-focused approach to performance management has paid off.

Las Vegas has a long history of using performance data to guide decision making and produce positive outcomes, and the city has participated in ICMA’s performance management programs, most recently ICMA Insights™.

Here are some highlights from the article:


Las Vegas sits in a fragile desert ecosystem that poses challenges for a city committed to long-term sustainability. Accurate data, including information about solar performance, production, building energy consumption, and cost collected from 40 facilities, allowed the city to prioritize high-impact projects, starting with a solar plant at the wastewater treatment facility. Savings from this and other solar projects have totaled tens of millions of dollars that are used for additional energy-saving investments.

The city also created triple bottom-line decision making for major capital improvement projects, looking at people, planet, and profit.

Eventually, solar was installed in 25 city sites, and the city began getting one-fifth of its power from solar. “In addition,” says Fretwell, “the city has reached a landmark, one-of-a-kind agreement in our state with NV Energy to allow 100 percent of the city’s retail power load to be served by renewable energy!"

Traffic Safety

Using data has also allowed Las Vegas to make good street maintenance decisions. Staff identified the worst 50 intersections for congestion, left-turn accidents, and crashes, and that’s where they invested their limited funds for improvements.

The results?

  • A 25 percent reduction in delays in 27 of 31 intersections ranked as the most congested.
  • A 61 percent decrease in left-turn accidents at the 50 intersections with the highest number of these crashes.
  • A 26 percent deduction in accidents at the 50 worst intersections for crashes.

Says Fretwell, “By using the right data we are able to address where the need is most critical in our community. It also helps us explain to our residents why improvements may have to wait on a project in their neighborhood because public safety is increased by concentrating on these trouble-spot intersections.”

She also says that the city’s participation in the What Works Cities program, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will encourage managers to incorporate “even more of the right data” into daily processes.

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