How to Avoid Information Islands


One of the most important things in government is to have enough information for decision making. And it is obvious that every government agency has special needs for data collection, processing and a way to present it for analysis.

In the search of those data, most agencies find their unique way to create databases, applications, systems and tools to meet their information requirements.

The problem appears when several agencies try to exchange information because there is not always a standard to accomplish in the way the data are storage and administrate.

Today it is possible to communicate different databases over different platforms in a simple way, but that’s not the problem. Some agencies treat their information as a treasure they don’t want to share. And in some ways it is understandable, but here is where the isolation begins.

Here’s is a route to avoid that situation:

1. Make contact

One of the most useful tools we can use is to establish a close contact with different offices. Almost always, the agencies are willing to exchange data with others for fulfilling their needs of better and more complete information. Let us seize this opportunity and establish close communication with others agencies.

2. Create agreements

It is important for an environment of serious cooperation that there are written agreements that give formality to the relationship between institutions. That documents must specify the role and commitment of each part as well as the scope, obligations, and responsibilities for everyone. This is a healthy way to keep those relationships for a long time.

3. Collaborate

Once there is a signed agreement, the next step is to carry out the collaboration between technical teams. The better the cooperation is planned, the better the result of the information exchange. This step has the goal of defining in detail how the interagency relationship will work and what are the task to deploy for each department. It is important to make clear that collaboration doesn’t mean full access to our databases. On the contrary, it means defining specifically what information will be access in terms of volume, frequency, security and users.

4. Let the technicians agree

The next phase will involve the technical team’s real relationship. Here’s where the people who are in charge of administrating the information systems make contact and define a way to work to create the software tools and obtain the information needed for specific purposes. In this stage, the database administrators, analysts, programmers and other IT professionals establish the route to follow for the information exchange.

5.Give and take

Finally, with all the arrangements settling down, the next step is to take advantage of the information exchange. Integrate the data gathered into our information systems, databases, reports and other data analysis tools we use. At the same time, we must be aware that other agencies are using the information that was agreed upon. We must be able to give and take information effectively.

It is essential that the governments can count on reliable information, relevant, accessible and truthful. It is a priority task for the IT people to have databases or data warehouses created for collaborating with all government agencies. The global vision of a government must tend to avoid information islands as a way to have a better way to make decisions from an integral point of view.

Sergio Yorick is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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