San Luis Obispo County Drug and Alcohol Reports

San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health Department tasked us with creating internal and external dashboards to analyze and display treatment program data.

Our Team


Michaela Fromm

Project Manager

Michaela Fromm is an Industrial Engineering major, Statistics minor, and Engineering Management Master’s student from San Juan Capistrano, CA. Her main roles were designing and analyzing experiments for the final dashboard designs.

Sascha Keir

Communications Lead

Sascha Keir is an Industrial Engineering major from Toronto, Canada. Her main roles were facilitating time studies and coordinating the dashboard implementation.

Emily Johnson

Data Analyst

Emily Johnson is an Industrial Engineering major and Engineering Management Master’s student from Marin County, CA. Her main roles were developing standardized excel templates and designing the Power BI dashboards.


We would like to thank Dr. Liz Thompson and the SLO County Behavioral Health Department including our sponsor Irma Perez who guided the team throughout the project.

Our Project's Videos

Please enjoy the team’s final presentation and walkthrough of the external dashboard.

Our Project's Digital Poster

Problem Statement

San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health collects data on treatment programs, but they do not have proper means of analysis to aid in informed decision-making. ​The current data recording process lacks uniform structure and employees have minimal data analytics skills. This inhibits the department from receiving optimal grants biannually and properly informing taxpayers on county health status monthly.​


Create and implement internal and external data visualization tools that:

1. Aid the department in displaying useful statistics for grant writing

2. Ensure the public has transparency about the programs and use of their tax money

3. Be an example for other Health County to implement similar visual data tools

Current State

The current process is done through Excel:  

  • – The 5 different programs use 5 different non-uniform, static spreadsheets

Time Study Results:

  • – One statistic takes 5.1 minutes on average to calculate 
  • – One grant has approximately 50 statistics, average grant time = 256 minutes or 4.3 hours 

Areas of Research

  • Dashboard Design
  • Dashboard Usability
  • Software Analysis: Tableau vs. Power BI
  • Public Health Dashboards
  • Adult Drug Courts
  • Social Impact of Substance Abuse Programs
  • Analytical Hierarchy Process – AHP

Standards & Constraints

Impact Analysis

Ethical Impacts:
  • – Improved transparency for public
  • – Reduced cost for taxpayers

Societal Impacts:

  • – Reduce recidivism rates
  • – Decrease crime and drug use
  • – Keep families together
  • – Low-level offenders receive treatment inside of prison time


This project is sponsored by San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health Department.


External Dashboard

Examined effectiveness of user-centered design principles through quantitative and qualitative methods. 

Found significance difference in number of clicks for each dashboard at the .01 significance level.

Internal Dashboard

Conducted a focus group of employees for feedback and critiques of different dashboard iterations.


Create a hybrid dashboard with both tables and graphs.

Excel Standardization

Designed standardized excel templates with uniform headers and drop-down menus for data entry. Linked the drop-down menus to one template that can edited in the future. Created excel workbooks templates for new programs that will be added in the future. 

Verification & Cost Savings


Time to find one statistic improved from 5.1 minutes to 14.8 seconds​​

Time to complete one grant application went from 4.3 hours to 12.3 minutes, a time savings of 95.2% for each grant application​.

Cost Savings

Final Designs

External Dashboard

  • – Educate the public
  • – Display statistics including participant gender, race, age, drug of choice, and number served per year

Internal Dashboard

  • – Help employees gain insight and analyze data for grant writing
  • – Includes statistics for all data the county is collecting in both visual and table format

User Guides


Implementation Plan: Train employees on new Excel template and Power BI dashboards ​​

Future Directions: More extensive Power BI training and creation of a data analytics team

Scalability Options: Solution can help other counties create similar dashboards as dashboards for Health Departments will be mandatory starting Spring 2021

Our Project Slides

External Dashboard
Internal Dashboard
Internal Dashboard
Internal Dashboard
  • Follow this link to view the external dashboard on the SLO County Behavioral Health Department’s website.


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