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Finding Data Relationships

Incomplete data can have dire consequences. It can prevent a child welfare caseworker from having an accurate understanding of an at-risk child’s environment. It can leave a police officer unprepared for what waits on the opposite side of a door. And partial data can deprive needy families of services that would put food on their table.

Government is complex and inherently siloed, said Rock Regan, Director of Alliances, State and Local Government with Qlik, which offers data integration and analytics. There are also many different agencies, each addressing a unique concern.

“The No. 1 challenge that most governments face is they all want to be data-driven, but the data tends to be siloed and difficult to access. That makes agencies very stovepiped with the data they are able to use to make decisions,” he explained.

Use Hard-to-Find Data

Legacy systems are part of the problem, Regan said, because they weren’t designed for today’s exponential data growth. What agencies need is technology that can access difficult-to-find information and present it to employees in ways they understand.

“Data is all about relationships,” he noted, “so being able to figure out how to leverage data from multiple different sources and create data models that can help people make decisions they’ve never been able to do before is exciting.”

Qlik, for instance, offers agencies what’s called an associative approach, which lets them freely explore all their data. Qlik’s platform is available in a FedRAMP Moderate cloud and on premises, providing not
only flexibility, but also the security, governance and innovation agencies require.

Employees, regardless of their technical knowledge, can use an interactive dashboard to explore data without limits, rather than rely on more finite information gleaned from specific searches.

That means employees can acquire ancillary knowledge they didn’t realize they needed. It’s like having peripheral vision.

Provide Strong Services

Regan said the objective is “to give knowledge workers in agencies the tools that allow them to be creative and to look at ways to provide better services to the public.” That could involve public protection, benefit delivery or simply cost-cutting, he noted. Or it could involve real-time information sharing, such as when citizens want the latest election statistics.

One of Qlik’s partners, for instance, helped the state of Georgia build what they call an online election hub, Regan said. As an election unfolds, people can check the Secretary of State’s website for vote totals, number of absentee ballots cast, voter ages and similar details — information that is of great interest.

That’s an external-facing application. Behind the scenes, separate Qlik applications help Georgia counties perform their election responsibilities, Regan said.

Think About What You Want

As government, technology and data become more complex, agencies need to ease employee workloads, drive better insights and maximize resources. They must understand privacy and data-sharing rules.

And Regan said that agencies should dream big: “It starts with identifying what data they need. What does perfection look like?”

This article appears in our guide, “Decision Intelligence: New Possibilities for Data-Based Decision-Making.” For more about how agencies are using data in practical ways, download the guide here:


Photo by Anna Nekrashevich at pexels.com

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