Opening the Data Floodgates

Part of the President's Management Agenda (PMA) calls out leveraging data as a strategic asset for more effective government. In support of this, several pieces of legislation and policy have been created to better enable and even incentivize agencies to make their data available and open for use across government and by citizens.

Federal CIO Suzette Kent recently said that the Federal Data Strategy will be released soon and will prioritize datasets that could help stimulate the economy, protect the nation, and continue important research. The guidelines will present principles that prioritize data security, privacy, and transparency.

This Federal Data Strategy follows the passage of the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act at the beginning of the year. This law requires that all non-sensitive government data be made available in machine-readable formats by default. It also creates a Chief Data Officers Council that will address data governance across agencies.

Even before these laws and guidance were released, we've seen how access to data can impact communities. For example, in Asheville, NC, BeLoved Asheville, an activist group of homeless people, launched the Homeless Voice Project. This project filters public crime data using arrestees' addresses. They were able to show that the homeless population was being disproportionally targeted and arrested by highlighting the number of homeless shelter addresses being used. In Norfolk, VA, community groups are using data to show the impact of re-development on communities, highlighting the size of population displacement that would come with gentrification. These groups are finding there is less "shouting across the table" and common ground is easier to find when arguments are backed with data.

Similarly, open data is helping make more sound financial decisions. Open data is really all about changing the way data is packaged - making it more machine readable, rather than relying on humans to read and interpret. This holds huge promise for groups looking to borrow money or get funding as now they can more easily provide the data needed to make these investment decisions.

We've pulled together a list of some events that may help agencies better understand how to comply with open data mandates and start getting new value out of existing data.

  • Mission to Modernize (April 25, 2019; Washington, DC) -- Government and industry leaders will explore the approaches needed to incorporate modernized technologies in federal agencies. Attend to hear how you can modernize legacy systems and implement a sustainable infrastructure for IT transformation. Organized by Government Executive Media Group, this event qualifies for 4 CPEs.
  • Open Data Science Conference East (April 30-May 3, 2019; Boston, MA) - One of the largest applied data science conferences in the world, this event features speakers that include some of the core contributors to many open source tools, libraries, and languages. The event will feature the latest AI & data science topics, tools, and languages.
  • 2019 DoD and Federal Knowledge Management Symposium (May 14-16, 2019; Baltimore, MD) - Hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency, this event examines how to collect, transfer, and use an organization's most valuable asset as instructional knowledge. DOD and federal government decision-makers will join knowledge management (KM) subject matter experts and thought leaders from around the world to provide briefings and presentations based on their experiences of assessing, adopting, and implementing new technology to improve KM practices.
  • Data and Analytics Summit (May 15, 2019; Washington, DC) - With a theme of "leveraging data to improve mission effectiveness," this 1105 Media Group event brings together seasoned federal leaders from across government to explore how cloud computing, AI, and other emerging technologies are opening the door to large-scale, deep mining of data that could revolutionize the way government agencies fulfill their missions. Topics to be discussed include the technology behind data mining and analysis, the hidden value buried in government data, data governance and compliance, and more.
  • Chief Data, Analytics Officers & Influencers, Government (May 29-30, 2019; Washington, DC) -- This forum is led by CDOs and CAOs but is open to all IT, Data and Analytics Leaders from public agencies, for meeting and networking with peers from a range of organizations and experiences. This year's event is focused on moving beyond the "why" and into the "how" of data management.
  • Transform Data into Value (June 13, 2019; Washington, DC) - This roundtable of government personnel will discuss how to wrangle government's vast amounts of unstructured data. They will discuss strategies to drive better business processes, ways to modernize legacy content systems, opportunities to harness your agency's data, and more.

Let us know where you are getting your education around open data in the comments.

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