Customer Summit Horizon Sessions: October 27

October 27, 2015 6:25 pm PST | Open Data

The Horizon room covered a multitude of topics, including how open data can impact the fields of education, public health, money, and operational excellence.  Our panelists and speakers brought their experience and expertise to help our attendees gain some great insights insights. More below.

Open Education – How Data Can Transform the Education Sector

  • Mike Powell, Sr. Consultant, UPD Consulting
  • Ross Santy, Assoc. Commissioner, Administrative Data Division, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
  • Laurie Posner, Director of Civic Engagement, Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA)
  • Stefan Kramer, Assoc. Director for Research Data Services, American University

The panel brought together minds from multiple areas of education – from the federal level with NCES, to the local K-12 level with IDRA, to the university experience with American University. From the federal level, the Education Scorecard for colleges that was released earlier this year included a robust API for customization and expansion potential. The biggest impact was the ability for analysts to delve into the reasons behind the numbers, e.g. if a statewide statistic was above or not meeting a specific standard. From the university standpoint, one of the challenges as well as opportunities that have emerged is via metadata. Individuals are increasingly valuing the importance of knowing more about their data: collection and analysis methodologies, periods of collection, and more.  Also, as a result of increased knowledge and ease-of-use (with platforms like Socrata), the average university student is able to access raw data without knowledge of statistical programming languages and analyses. From the local/K-12 perspective, parents and educators are able to become more active in their community.  It’s increasingly inadequate to be able to rank a school based on academics alone – with open data and increasing data visibility, we are able to find out why a school may be ranked lower without a multi-year in-depth investigation.  E.g. in Connecticut, an app has been created that compares schools not just by average grades, but by other datapoints such as recess availability, student-teacher ratios, and more.

Improving Data Transparency and Feedback Mechanisms for Health Systems in Developing Countries

  • Emily Barkin, Consultant in Emerging Markets & Global Health, Deloitte

Mozambique enlisted Deloitte to build a tool that tracks health data at the lowest level, allowing government authorities to make data-based decisions leading to the reduction of disease, increased child health, and increased family planning.  The impetus for this initiative originated because Mozambique, as rated by the World Health Organization, had 64.5 health care providers per every 100,000 in population – well below the world average.  With Deloitte’s help, they succeeded in providing a 5-day turnaround between data input and feedback; the tool became the preferred source of health data, provides feedback for government authorities to make critical decisions, and maintains central control over lower-level reporting.  Mozambique plans to integrate the tool with the Health Information Exchange in 2016.  Additionally, the tool is easily scaled and can be used in many settings.

Using Socrata to Measure Impact:  Public Health Preparedness and Response

  • Koogan Perrin, Strategy and Operations Project Manager, Deloitte

One of the biggest challenges with public health preparedness, is that success means nothing happens. A secondary success is when something bad happens but it is managed well. The CDC has about $1.3 billion invested in measuring preparedness across the complex landscape of the country; however, after 9/11, there has been year-over-year decline in funding. Deloitte was brought in to develop a dashboard to effectively communicate these issues and the work that the CDC is doing.  There were three main goals for this project: Strengthen measures and metrics across the CDC, better reflect relationships between funding and performance, and create an efficient process for ongoing assessment.  Through a partnership with Socrata, Deloitte is currently developing the CDC Impact Dashboard – the dashboard is coming soon, but a sneak preview was given!

Open Data in Spending:  How the Data Act Will Change Federal Management

  • Chris Zeleznik, Lead, Intergovernmental Recipient Engagement, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Data Act PMO
  • Christina Ho, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Accounting Policy and Financial Transparency, US Department of the Treasury
  • Hudson Hollister, Founder and Executive Director, Data Transparency Coalition
  • Joah Iannotta, (formerly) Assistant Director, Forensic Audits and Investigative Service (FAIS), US Government Accountability Office (now with Socrata)
  • Rebecca Williams, Senior Open Government Analyst, US Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The Data Act is one of the most transformational changes in government in that it is moving financial reporting from static documents to truly consumable open data and is the result of 5 years of work on Capitol Hill.  Treasury and OMB are tasked with defining data formats to be used by the entire federal government. The Data Act will help with automation and reduce redundancies in reporting at all levels of government. Currently federal spending information is not accessible or easily interpreted.  By defining standardization, anyone who is interested should be able to analyze how the federal government spends $3.5 trillion every year. The Data Act has defined 57 standardized elements, and the next step is to extract these element from all disparate systems in federal government.  The passion behind the Data Act is that U.S. citizens and U.S. government officials deserve to know how $3.5 trillion is spent. The Data Act is currently just the tip of the iceberg and it’s next iteration will be focused on financial management.

How Commerce is Using Data

  • Tyrone Grandison, Deputy Chief Data Officer, US Department of Commerce

Mr. Grandison highlighted the importance of Commerce in America – encapsulating all 12 Bureau’s of the DoC in the inner workings of a cell phone.  From Apps to patents to international trade, he showed how important data is to us, and to the DoC.  Grandison highlighted two main projects that the DoC is working on: one is around personalized market information for small businesses, and another is the integration of risk models and data with external sources.  This would allow, for example, insurance companies to use NOAA weather data to tell customers that a hail storm may strike within two hours in their neighborhood, and that they should move their car – saving the customer from property damage, and the insurance company from paying repair costs and liability.

Open Data in Financial Regulation, Better for Investors, Better for Agencies, Better for You

  • Daniel Castro, Director, Center for Data Innovation
  • Hudson Hollister, Founder and Executive Director, Data Transparency Coalition
  • Matt Goulding, Legislative Assistant, Office of Congressman Darrell Issa

The Financial Transparency Act is viewed as the next step in legislation to allow for greater open data to the American public.  Currently 8 federal financial regulators receive over 600 different manual and static reporting documents from the commercial financial institutions they regulate. Congressman Issa, with bipartisan support and the added support of the Center for Data Innovation and Data Transparency Coalition, look to move static and manual financial regulatory reporting to standardized open data.  The implications are easier reporting for investors, better for the reporting entity, and better for the regulator.  FDIC and NCUA have proven that new reporting standards work. The ultimate goal is to reduce the burden of financial regulatory reporting and to make the information more consumable.  The Financial Transparency Act is nicknamed, “Data Act 2.0.”

Data-driven Fed – How Federal Agencies are Using Performance Management

  • Jeff Press, Deputy Director, Performance Strategy, Department of Commerce
  • Jitinder Kohli, Director of Public Sector Strategy, Deloitte
  • Jon Desenberg, Senior Policy Director, The Performance Institute
  • Kate Josephs, Executive Director, The Performance Improvement Council
  • Robert Shea, Principal, Grant Thornton

This panel discussion featured representatives across government agencies and contractors to discuss data-driven federal decision making.  While the term “data-driven decision-making” may be somewhat redundant, the mindset of using open data to enhance decision making is relatively new. The main questions posed to the panel was how administrations can take advantage of the open data movement, as well as how the current administration (and the next administration) can continue to advance open data initiatives.  The panel agrees that current and future administrations should encourage risk taking in open data and technologies, and attempt to employ transparency and accountability in performance metrics.  Finally, one of the opportunities for the next administration, from whichever side of the aisle they may be, is that open data has not necessarily been tied to a political cause – often, systems are scrapped because it reminds people of the old administration.  But open data isn’t an “Obama administration” thing per se – so an objective review of the benefits and costs of maintaining the program are warranted.

Data for Health – Focusing Open Health Data Initiatives on Impact, Action, and Results

  • Christopher Boone, CEO, Health Data Consortium
  • Jason Bonander, Director of Office of Informatics and Information Resource Management, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC
  • Michael Wilkening, Undersecretary, California Health and Human Services Agency
  • Pat Lynch, senior strategic advisor, New York State Department of Health

This panel discussed the implementation and utilization of open data in large-scale health policy organizations.  Moving to open data requires a tremendous amount of culture change that can be eased by the use of strategy, innovation, and proper communication.  There was a difference between the organizations in terms of constituent participation and utilization. While the CDC had few naysayers and could focus on groups that were creating demand for their platform, New York and California had some pushback in implementing a open data platform.  Using multiple communication strategies, including everyday language, strong use cases, and customer understanding helped to gain participation.  Some key points articulated about standing up a platform for health organizations: 1) have a vision, 2) be collaborative, 3) tell stories, and 4) connect your strategy to a current or future policy.

Socrata, Security, and Hunting for APTS (Advanced Persistent Threats)

  • Pat Lamphere, Director of Security and Compliance, Socrata

Pat Lamphere provided an overview of Socrata’s security team and their priorities. He covered how much experience is contained in the team, what their philosophy is in maintaining a high level of security, and approach to finding and addressing Advanced Persistent Threats. Socrata is also currently in the process of getting FedRAMP certification and has a “realist” approach to security based on the actual likelihood that a vulnerability or issue may be exploited, rather than to apply a patch for everything at the risk of jeopardizing other schedules.  We have a multitude of ways to discover APTs, which typically originate from state-sponsored hackers that wish to do actual damage and steal information, rather than script-kiddie types.

Running Open Data in the Open – Chicago’s Best Tools

  • Jonathan Levy, Open Data Program Manager, City of Chicago

The City of Chicago operates a robust open data program that is housed in the Office of IT. They have developed several tools to support the open data program and engage the community. Jonathan highlighted the city’s Status Blog related to the open data portal that changes to existing data sets, displays outages and problems, provides explanations of concepts and terms, and provides advance notice of dataset deletions. Chicago also created a Data Dictionary in conjunction with the University of Chicago, since not everything can be put on the portal.  Chicago supports several open source projects primarily on GitHub. Chicago deployed and open source ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Framework allowing for automated portal updates and integration. Finally Jonathan highlighted a few open research tools, like Food Inspection Forecasting, helping inspectors have foresight into cleanliness problems in the city.


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