What's the Big Deal About Data Sharing?

December 16, 2019 by Melissa Crowe

What's the Big Deal About Data Sharing?

The typical government has more than 1,000 line-of-business systems.

Alarmingly, many of them don't interoperate. You might say they don't "play nice."

One of the barriers traditionally preventing governments operating more effectively is poor access to their own data. For example, during the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in New York City, the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA) wanted to analyze the problem, but the data was scattered across numerous systems in multiple agencies that didn't ordinarily have any reason to collaborate.

What if the right folks at those organization had access to the right data?

It's a vision that's creating the latest buzz in government leadership: Agencies adopting strategies to support data sharing programs.

Eventually MODA realized the city was publishing almost all of this data on its Socrata-powered open data platform and they could easily access the raw data they needed to make informed decisions. This ultimately led to the solution to this outbreak.

Governments with successful data sharing programs focus on several elements: flexibility, accessibility, canonical sources of data, and cost.

Flexibility: Government organizations are moving from monolithic enterprise applications to modular applications that act as interlocking blocks that can be combined in myriad configurations.

Accessibility: Governments leaders can improve functionality, support robust discussions, and generate new approaches across agencies through new explorations of data.

Canonical Sources of Data: With a single source of truth, policymakers are empowered to base decisions off reliable information — it's accurate, timely, and relevant. Furthermore, they can replicate and confirm existing findings, and this builds trust.

Cost: Maintaining multiple systems is costly and can generate redundant data as well as duplicative efforts.

There are two lenses: enablement and risk.

Both internal and external stakeholders need to gain access to data to lead programs, impact policy, and put data to work. However, the organization, technology, and diligence to control who accesses what kind of data, including when and how, is a challenge.

Data sharing programs need to bridge the gap between both.

Leaders need to address the potential threats of storing data in multiple, uncontrolled locations; inaccurate data; and protections around sensitive data. To do this, they must be prepared to adopt a robust data infrastructure that standardizes data and has controls for access. This infrastructure will equip them with data that's trustworthy, discoverable, accessible. With this, they can glean new insights and develop ground-breaking approaches to service delivery, policy, and programs.

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