DSA Harnesses Mobile Tech to Track Ground-level Trends and Member, Ratepayer Needs

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Hand reaches finger toward an iPhone

For years, the Downtown Seattle Association’s ambassadors tracked their daily activities in paper notebooks. Every interaction was transcribed by hand, creating stacks of information that needed to be compiled at the end of every day.  

Now, digital maps and data visualization are replacing those paper notes. Called Fulcrum, the new system uses a portable, tablet-based application to paint a real-time picture of what’s happening downtown.

This new technology helps DSA serve members and Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) ratepayers by helping our team better understand downtown trends, direct resources and proactively address downtown concerns.

Navigating a single block on any given day, a Safety Ambassador might:

  • assist a tourist
  • respond to a ratepayer request
  • remind an individual of city ordinances
  • contact city services
  • call in a cleanup from the Clean Team; and
  • conduct a welfare check on someone in distress.

Those interactions — all 2,500 per week — used to be recorded by hand. Ambassadors can now categorize and geotag all of that data with a few keystrokes.

The Fulcrum system enables a new level of agility in deploying resources, says Dave Willard, Vice President of Clean, Safe and Outreach Services at DSA.

“We’re outside every day gathering information,” Willard Says. “Fulcrum leverages our data and allows us to be more nimble and proactive. We can look on the map and say, ‘We’re getting a lot of cleanup calls in front of this business; let’s make sure to keep someone nearby.’ We think it’s a win for us and for members, ratepayers, residents and visitors.”

Ambassadors appreciate the new technology, too.

“It’s night and day,” assistant safety supervisor Sean Sherman says. “Previously, pages and pages of data had to be transferred from written sheets into our CRM system and we weren’t as confident about accuracy.”

Beyond ease of use is the improvement in quality of information captured, Sherman says.

“Now we get what we call ‘truthfulness’ in the data. Instead of jotting down a cross street, we’re placing GPS markers on digital maps. There is a much richer understanding of where tourists are going, what questions people are asking, where we’re needed and how we can best serve our customers.”

With Fulcrum, DSA isn’t just transforming unwieldy datasets into dynamic tools, we’re taking another step to improve downtown for everyone who wants to enjoy Seattle’s great center city.