DR. JESSICA HERBERT
Dr. Herbert appears in the Top 100
Innovators & Entrepreneurs magazine.
Dr. Jessica Herbert
Technology is the Key to Fixing Crime: This Law Enforcement Veteran-Turned-Tech Entrepreneur is Delivering.
Dr. Jessica Herbert, the founder and CEO of IDEA Analytics, has always been a trailblazer. With over 20 years of experience spanning law enforcement, research, data science, and academia, she's never been one to accept the status quo. From a young age, she challenged norms and questioned why things had to be done the same way as everyone else. This drive to do things differently led her to ask a fundamental question: "What if we didn't do public safety the same way as everyone else?
Throughout her career, Dr. Herbert had always challenged the way practitioners, data scientists, and governments collaborated. In doing so, she recognized the potential to align leadership and technology to bring about transformative change. Armed with a doctorate of philosophy in criminology and criminal justice from Arizona State University, a Master of Arts in global security studies from Johns Hopkins University, and both a BA and BS from George Mason University, complemented by her wealth of practical experience, she set out to implement much needed reform within the landscape of public safety. With that goal as the bedrock of her mission, Dr. Herbert founded IDEA Analytics.
Established in 2014, IDEA Analytics is a forward-thinking company headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, with a broad footprint across the United States. They have successfully engaged in public safety reform and data-technology integration projects, leaving their mark in 34 states and 80 cities. Unlike conventional consultants who merely reiterate established knowledge, IDEA Analytics distinguishes itself by working in partnership with local governments, public safety agencies, and nonprofits to enhance the utilization of data and technology to aid leaders who grapple with inefficient systems and practices. What truly sets IDEA Analytics apart from others in the space is their dedication to change management. They challenge their clients to learn, grow, and, most importantly, transform. They aren't just catalysts for change; they are the architects of it. In addition, in contrast to conventional short-term consultancy contracts, they choose to be long-term strategic partners, working with organizations throughout the challenging journey of change, navigating known and unforeseen obstacles.
Dr. Herbert granted The Top 100 Magazine an opportunity to learn more about her innovative company and how it is elevating local governments through transformative change.
Dr. Herbert, what inspired you to start IDEA Analytics?
I had joined the police force right after 9/11 and my initial goal for starting IDEA Analytics was to support law enforcement while I was still in the field and exposed to where the deficiencies were. However, as I engaged with various consultants in the public safety sector, I noticed significant gaps and superficial efforts in their approaches. This realization ignited my inspiration to take a different path. I believe that it's not enough to merely point out problems; the true value lies in finding and implementing solutions. Providing practical and achievable recommendations is paramount. Too often, I observed consultants proposing grandiose ideas without offering a clear roadmap for execution. It's akin to telling someone they can become a millionaire without teaching them financial management or allowing them to understand the stock market. In response, I transformed my company into an implementation partner. We focus on guiding, coaching, and influencing individuals and organizations that are in need of change. Our approach goes beyond suggestions; we aim to enhance technical skill sets, enabling our clients to progress incrementally and keep up with the evolving landscape. Ultimately, our mission is to empower our clients to achieve their goals, step by step, in a practical and sustainable manner.
Will you share some more details about what your company does and what makes it so unique?
There are several key factors that make our approach unique and effective: Firstly, our flexibility in working with both short-term and long-term projects. We understand that not every agency is in a position to commit to multi-year, million-dollar projects. We've developed methods to operationalize our assessments, coaching, and support programs, tailoring them to the specific needs of our clients. Whether it's a three-month engagement or an 18-month partnership, we adapt to ensure that resources are used efficiently. Secondly, our focus on implementation is a game-changer. We don't merely point out gaps and problems because agencies usually already know these issues exist. Instead, we identify opportunities and the connecting elements that enable agencies to pivot and gain traction. Our commitment to being a strategic partner throughout the implementation process, even when faced with challenges, is a crucial aspect of our uniqueness. Another distinguishing factor is our diverse team. We don't limit ourselves to individuals solely from criminal justice backgrounds. Our workforce includes experts with both technical and policy backgrounds from various industries. This diversity allows us to introduce fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the public safety field, addressing its pressing needs for innovation. Furthermore, we provide support to agencies during the technology procurement phase. We assist them in identifying the right business processes, requirements, and interoperability aspects to ensure their infrastructure plans are future-proof. For instance, many agencies approach us with a specific technology in mind, but we help them avoid investing in isolated solutions that don't integrate effectively. It's like moving into a 1920s house thinking that you're going to have USB ports or that the dated electrical system can support the needs of modern electronics.
What is the biggest public safety issue impacting local governments today?
In the present landscape, one pressing issue is the acknowledgment within the field that resources are limited. This realization demands a critical evaluation of what works and what doesn't. Recent years have been challenging for public safety, with agencies consistently facing shortages in officers, technology, and equipment, but they are beginning to recognize that this isn't a transient problem; it's a permanent shift in the paradigm. With finite resources, the expansion of human and technological assets necessitates innovation. Several of our clients, such as Salisbury, North Carolina, Davenport, Iowa, and Amarillo, Texas, fall into this category. We've been collaborating with them to enhance their analytical capabilities, facilitating the recruitment of analysts, and implementing processes that enable smarter patrolling and investigative practices. In essence, the evolving reality of limited resources demands a shift in mindset towards innovation and efficiency, a transformation we are actively fostering among our clients.
What is one piece of advice you’d share with agency or government leaders who are seeking to improve or reform their public service or safety initiatives by adopting innovative technology?
My advice is akin to the house analogy. Agencies should thoroughly assess their existing infrastructure before embracing innovative technology. Understanding what can be absorbed or modified is crucial to formulating strategic and cost-effective procurement plans. Many agencies rush to purchase cutting-edge items like drones or cameras without a clear vision of how these tools will integrate into their operations. My key recommendation is for agencies to gain a deep understanding of their current infrastructure and architecture. By doing so, they can identify its limitations and make necessary improvements to support their innovative technology purchases efficiently. This approach ensures that investments are well-placed and not wasteful, ultimately leading to more effective implementation of new technologies.
Dr. Jessica Herbert
Founder and CEO