New Resources Support Efforts to Integrate Civic Data to Solve Problems

Posted October 22, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
By 2020, half of all children in the United States will live in counties and states using integrated data services.

Casey Foun­da­tion grantees have pub­lished two new resources to help state and local gov­ern­ments nav­i­gate the sub­stan­tial chal­lenges asso­ci­at­ed with col­lect­ing, link­ing, clean­ing and secur­ing data in the pub­lic interest.

An increas­ing num­ber of gov­ern­ments are embrac­ing inte­grat­ed data sys­tems (IDS) — the use of data they already col­lect as a strate­gic asset for devel­op­ing bet­ter poli­cies and pro­grams. At least a dozen states and a dozen local gov­ern­ments have mature or emer­gent data sys­tems that inte­grate infor­ma­tion from across their social ser­vices, schools, courts and oth­er sys­tems, accord­ing to Action­able Intel­li­gence for Social Pol­i­cy (AISP). By using the cost-effec­tive data in these sys­tems to make con­nec­tions across child- and fam­i­ly-serv­ing pro­grams, gov­ern­ments have improved out­comes for chil­dren in fos­ter care, cre­at­ed more effec­tive and less expen­sive care options for vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens and launched the first coun­ty-based pay for suc­cess” ini­tia­tive in the Unit­ed States to sta­bi­lize home­less par­ents and more quick­ly reuni­fy families.

The Resource Guide to Data Gov­er­nance and Secu­ri­ty, by the Nation­al Neigh­bor­hood Indi­ca­tors Part­ner­ship (NNIP), includes a thor­ough review of the impor­tant legal guide­lines that gov­ern suc­cess­ful data ini­tia­tives, as well as best prac­tices for ensur­ing pri­vate infor­ma­tion is stored and used secure­ly. In con­junc­tion with the report, NNIP cat­a­logued 50 data-shar­ing agree­ments from mem­bers of its nation­al net­work for inter­est­ed gov­ern­ments to use as tem­plates for new data inte­gra­tion initiatives.

Tech­nol­o­gy for Civic Data Inte­gra­tion, pub­lished by the Metro­Lab Net­work, guides gov­ern­ments, uni­ver­si­ties and non­prof­its in solv­ing tech­ni­cal chal­lenges to trans­form raw data into knowl­edge that is use­ful for pub­lic and civic lead­ers. Writ­ten with AISP and NNIP, the report draws on the broad expe­ri­ence of all three net­works to describe key con­sid­er­a­tions to build­ing and sus­tain­ing IDS, including:

  • how to man­age the five phas­es of the data inte­gra­tion life­cy­cle, from ini­tial col­lec­tion to analy­sis and dissemination;
  • when to select com­mer­cial and pro­pri­etary tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions and when to pre­fer open-source and open-stan­dard products;
  • where to store and how to orga­nize inte­grat­ed data — on site, in the cloud and with what meta­da­ta and struc­ture; and
  • how to staff IDS in dif­fer­ent con­texts, includ­ing mod­el job descrip­tions for four dis­tinct pro­fes­sion­al roles.

AISP will use these reports as part of its pro­gram to pro­vide tech­ni­cal assis­tance to state and local gov­ern­ments build­ing new inte­grat­ed data sys­tems, a new cohort of which will be select­ed in Decem­ber. Metro­Lab staff will dis­cuss the rec­om­men­da­tions in Tech­nol­o­gy for Civic Data Inte­gra­tion at the network’s upcom­ing annu­al sum­mit in Newark and at NNIP’s part­ner­ship meet­ing, Octo­ber 1719, in Los Angeles.

Read Casey’s resource page on inte­grat­ed data systems

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