Data sharing initiatives slowly gaining traction
The majority of agencies still don’t share data, partly due to a lack of clarity on how to use all the information they collect, a new report finds.
Widespread adoption of data sharing initiatives is still a long way off for most governments. Many are just in the early stages of implementation, and agency leaders sometimes struggle to sort through and find use-cases for all the data they collect, according to a report issued last week.
Eighty percent of local, state, federal and international governments have started data ecosystems, or programs where data is securely and collaboratively shared across agencies and with the private sector and residents. But only 10% have fully deployed them, and another 27% are in the early stages of deployment, according to government consulting company Capgemini Government Solutions.
There are several barriers facing governments implementing effective data-sharing programs, said Andrew Kuoh, principal for business intelligence systems and analytics at Capgemini. Those barriers include mistrust between stakeholders who may be reluctant to share data with each other and the cost associated with setting up platforms on which to share that data.
Kuoh also noted that it can be difficult for governments to ascertain how to properly use and share the scads of data that they collect. To do so, Capgemini recommended coming up with specific use cases, an effort that Kuoh said could “start small” and provide a high return on investment. Then, once an initial data-sharing use case has proved successful, it makes it easier to scale up and build trust in the process, the integrity of the data and the technology protecting it.
More reliance on the cloud has made it easier for government agencies to collect data, Kuoh said, which is a double-edged sword. There is more data at leaders’ fingertips, but it can contain a lot of “noise,” or meaningless information.
“When we talk about data-driven decision-making, data-driven culture, it's definitely made things easier, because there's more data, but also made things harder because of that noise,” Kuoh said. “It's just so much data everywhere.” Governments must then try “to discern what is valuable, what is actionable, what is relevant,” he added, which “increases the complexity of that entire data pipeline process.”
A data ecosystem benefits governments by making operations more efficient and improving engagement, Kuoh said, especially if data sharing reduces the number of interfaces for users. It also provides leaders with “better context” for decisions they must make, he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic also helped create a “new world,” Kuoh said, when so many services moved online. Now, residents expect more seamless services delivery, which benefits from greater data sharing.
One notable area where data-sharing has made an impact on government agencies is in cybersecurity. Capgemini found that 74% of organizations in the public sector that have deployed or are deploying data ecosystems say they have improved their resilience against cyberattacks.
There is evidence that states especially are seeing the benefits of increased data sharing on mitigating new or emerging threats, including through cross-state collaborations like the cyber command center led by North Dakota.
Meanwhile, Texas’ Department of Information Resources wants local governments to be required to report ransomware incidents to improve transparency and strengthen the state’s defenses. Kuoh said threat-sharing is “critical” for agencies’ resilience, as they must be prepared to continue to serve their customers even in the event of an attack.
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