Why you need a data intermediary
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Jun 16, 2016
What: The “Guide to Starting a Local Data Intermediary,” from the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership.
Why: Communities looking to take advantage of data for community building, advocacy, program planning and policymaking should consider creating data intermediaries to act as data translators, educators and collaborators.
Findings: A data intermediary’s goals are to acquire, transform and maintain community data, disseminate information and apply the data to strengthen civic capacity and governance.
Building and maintaining a neighborhood-level information system is a big part of NIPP’s model.
The data collected by intermediaries could include public data available through federal, state or local data portals, data available through long-term agreements with the source agencies, primary data sources collected by intermediaries and integrated data systems available through partnerships.
The system should cover a range of domains and be frequently updated. The data should not located in one place, as NIPP partners use a range of software packages and configurations to clean and maintain data.
Data intermediaries should enter, organize and store the data as well as metadata, code, procedures and any related documentation, including data-sharing agreements and codebooks for individual fields. They must also ensure safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized access and use. The goal is a fully documented system, which will facilitate efficient data use and dissemination.
Communities should also design a data intermediary website to share analysis and perspectives on issues, provide downloadable data, democratize information, improve understanding of local opportunities and offer help desk services where needed. Eventually, intermediaries should use the data to produce a stream of products and services to affect outcomes in the community.
Takeaway: Products that keep the community engaged, show the value of curated data and enable government to easily use the data can enhance programs, policies and local conditions.
More: Read the full guide here.
Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.