The FAA Automates Analytics
December 5, 2022
Accelerating Fleet Management and Addressing the Zero Emission Vehicle Executive Order
Editor’s Note: This blog is co-authored by Sherif Said and Mark Trosper of Strategic Innovation Group. SIG, an Alteryx partner, is a collaboration of functional and technical subject matter experts supporting the mission of federal agencies for over 20 years. With over two decades of experience delivering successful solution development, implementation, and integration. Supporting the people, processes, and systems critical to organizational success. They can be reached at strategicIG.com
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), like all U.S. federal agencies, was mandated by an Executive Order from the Biden Administration to transition their fleets of road vehicles to Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035, with the replacement of non-specialized light-duty cars and trucks by 2027.
For the FAA, this means building more insights on vehicle type, age, physical garage location, fiscal disposition, and fuel and maintenance costs across a fleet of 4500+ vehicles. Before the introduction of Strategic Innovation Group (SIG), an Alteryx partner, and analytics automation through the Alteryx Analytics Automation Platform, the FAA fleet operations team was stuck manually processing and reporting on hundreds of thousands of data points, often sharing data via email and processing analysis via spreadsheets.
Thousands of vehicles, several sources of data, hundreds of thousands of data points
To manage its fleet operations, the FAA needed to integrate data from multiple sources such as the GSA fleet management system, property data, DELPHI, and multiple ERP systems to manage hundreds of thousands of data points from its fleet data dispersed across the United States.
To keep the nation flying, the FAA uses a fleet of vehicles to inspect airport facilities such as runways, towers, and terminals — all of which are critical to national aerospace operations. The federal government released a zero-emissions mandate to all cabinet-level offices in 2021. Managing this expansive fleet requires high visibility and extensive data analysis.
To comply, the agency was faced with managing the data from Excel and manually completing reviews on thousands of vehicles and the processes around communication and data sharing between agency and regional FAA teams and FAA headquarters. This was primarily managed by email and phone calls, where t fleet office would have to manually reach out to the vehicle owners to track mileage and conditions.
This process was a significant source of duplicated effort and increased the likelihood of mistakes and led to decision-makers working with outdated information. To help streamline this process, the FAA developed a fleet dashboard where all vehicle data, charging stations, and locations were visible in a single location. Although this eliminated most of the email traffic, it had several data quality control issues due to manual data input, which took weeks to compile for reports.
Automation to centralize reporting and insight
Working directly with the FAA fleet team, SIG began by looking at the logic flow of data through its multiple systems and formats. Using Alteryx, the SIG team was able to integrate the multiple datasets and join them into a dashboard. The flexibility of Alteryx enabled the FAA to shift from a push model to a pull model where the new process would only have to pull information from the GSA fleet application when there were updates. For example, if garage information changes for a vehicle, the data pulls the new information and updates the dashboard, associated reports, and the geospatial analysis related to a vehicle’s location.
3 reasons the FAA chose Alteryx:
- Automated data processing from multiple sources
- Data accuracy for reporting to users across the organization
- Highly flexible workflows that adapt to unexpected events
Going deeper with automated reporting and visualization across the agency
After the success of the initial data integration, the FAA expanded the dashboard functionality to include related vehicle financial data. This allowed for greater insight into costs for each line of business and the identification of problem areas that were costing the agency too much money on vehicle repairs or maintenance.
By utilizing Alteryx, the FAA now had the opportunity to create new reporting capabilities. Analyzed data could now be published automatically to a customizable Tableau dashboard, with options to segment the view at national, regional, or even individual line of business levels. This helps the FAA’s fleet team accurately report data to the administrators on the current and planned status of the ZEV initiative.
The agility of the Alteryx platform, including the ability to conduct geospatial analysis, meant that the FAA could create engaging visualizations where users can simply hover over an FAA location and get a quick summary of the vehicle status. Additionally, connections to other data sources enable users to get a summary view of the operational status of airports, including runway condition, facility readiness, and any current alerts that might affect aviation operations.
“Using Alteryx enabled the agency functionality and insight to fleet data that wasn’t available before. It gives us the confidence we needed for budget and timeline conversations.”
— Alteryx user, Federal Aviation Authority
Actionable insights in action
Now, with the acceleration of speed to insight, the fleet operations team can leverage the available analyses to plan for future vehicle conversion needs and budgeting needs. Additionally, with this new level of insight, the fleet team at FAA has identified seven key locations the agency can focus on immediately to enact fleet transition to ZEVs. This includes identifying 274 vehicles (6%) in the existing fleet that would be the best targets for replacement.
With a more controlled, trusted, and faster flow of data through the analytic workflow, the team at the FAA has access to accurate, timely updates of the fleet status — helping ensure the agency is placing electric vehicles in locations with the supporting infrastructure.
Data is now more accessible, accurate, timely, transparent, and actionable, helping analysts and decision-makers across the FAA manage the nation’s aviation network more effectively and efficiently. As one Alteryx user described it, “Using Alteryx enabled the agency functionality and insight to fleet data that wasn’t previously available. It gives us the confidence we needed for budget and timeline conversations.”
With these increased analytic capabilities, the FAA is on track to meet the ZEV guidelines while reducing fuel costs and the agency’s carbon footprint.
For more information on Alteryx geospatial capabilities, please read Unify Your Geospatial Analytics.