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The importance of data quality to open data

As many states continue to undergo customer relationship management (CRM) system modernizations, one key driver is open data. Open data is the process of granting information access to the public, which includes converting data to a format easily consumable by citizens. What data are we talking about? Maybe your citizens are interested in Census data, the location of available retail parcel space, or the trending price of produce. The topics vary widely and states need to figure out how to support all of it in a scalable and organized way. If residents can access that data online in an easy-to-consume fashion, that’s one less person calling into the agency or adding to the in-person queue at your office. As the trend sweeps across the public sector, more and more agencies are trying to figure out how to grant access to open data.

Seems easy enough; take all of your available data and share it with the public over the internet, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.

In support of this new avenue for data sharing, CIO’s are responsible for activities such as data asset management, standardization, reduction of barriers to access data, and enterprise data inventory. In reality, this requires major website upgrade, mobile enabled functionality, an IT resource transformation plans, as well as audit of the data management strategy in place.

According to our recent survey, The 2018 state of data management: a public sector benchmark report, 90 percent of agencies are interested in granting public access to their information. Similarly, references that 48/50 states are in production with an open data practice, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the data that forms the basis of your state portal is accurate. You can spend years developing and executing an open data initiative, but if the data hasn’t been validated to accurately reflect the truth, then the integrity of the entire platform is called into question. Having bad data about your services, state facilities, and citizens is bad enough—making that bad data readily available for public consumption is certainly another.

So, what do you do about it?

From a data management perspective, as you are readying your data to make it available to the public, you need to understand its strengths, limitations, and gaps across all sources. Are there irrelevant pieces of data consuming resources but not providing value? Can you easily view and manage the health of the full-volume of data? Can you perform audits across multiple sources databases at once? Do you have gaps in certain datasets or inconsistent formatting of dates, phone numbers, or dollar values? What about simple misspellings? Do you have an ongoing maintenance plan to monitor data degradation over time?

A concerning fact: many agencies prioritize the migration of their data before ensuring its validity and therefore potentially making bad data public and hindering the data’s potential effectiveness for the citizens it is meant to enable. Here at Experian, we believe the only data worth sharing is accurate data you trust. Do you trust yours? If you don’t, or if you are unsure, we’re here to help.

If you’re engaging in your open data plan and could use some help seeing the whole picture of your data, Experian Pandora can provide the view you’ve been seeking.

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