Feedback sought on data plan that could improve Connecticut life

The top of the home page of the state’s open data site.

It sounds kind of abstract and nerdy, but state officials want feedback on a draft data plan they hope could lead to better outcomes in the opioid crisis, climate change resiliency, and the workforce pipeline.

The plan, required under a law passed earlier this year, codifies a 2014 executive order made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to improve the state’s open data posture and establish the state open data portal at data.ct.gov.

“Open data” is a term used to describe proactively making data available, rather than waiting for it to be requested for a specific purpose.

But the draft plan doesn’t just focus on open data. It sets out principles that apply to all data that state executive branch employees handle, and it names specific areas of focus where agencies can use data to improve outcomes.

The plan is rooted in the idea that collecting data is costly and time-consuming, so, like any expensive resource, it should be tapped for all its potential — not just the stated purpose for which it was initially collected. That means data needs to be collected from the start with data quality, consistency and re-use in mind from the start, according to the draft plan.

To read the plan and comment, visit this site. Feedback is due by Friday, Aug. 24.

Though the plan is broad and high-level, it could have real implications in improving how the state makes decisions. “It’s not necessarily another plan that is written and sits on the shelf,” said Tyler Kleykamp, the state’s chief data officer. “Once it’s final, agency IT actions … are required to be consistent with the plan. ” He was speaking at the first meeting of the Connecticut Data Analysis Technology Advisory Board in July. The advisory board, like the state data plan, was established by the state law, Public Act 18-175.

Some of the specific focus areas identified in the draft plan for analyzing and improving outcomes include:

  • fighting the opioid epidemic by using overdose data for timelier, targeted responses;
  • better adapting to the impacts of climate change such as severe heat, storms, flooding and sea-level rise;
  • better coordinating health and human services delivery while also anonymizing the data for use by researchers;
  • reducing traffic injuries and deaths; and
  • increasing the current capacity to detect waste, fraud and abuse.

“A lot of these are actually things that are either already under way that we think we can scale a little bit more or bring on more agencies,” Kleykamp said at the advisory board meeting.

In addition to the state data plan, Public Act 18-175 requires each executive branch agency to designate a data officer, inventory its most valuable data and come up with a plan to make its data public. While the state’s data portal has been online for several years, these agency plans formalize what gets put into the portal, how it is maintained and how often it’s updated.

Kleykamp sees making an inventory of the state’s most valuable data as a basic first step in being smarter about data, the same way the state manages physical assets.

“This is something that I think is long overdue in state government […] my laptop has an asset tag on it, my cell phone has an asset tag on it,… all these things that we invest in and spend money on in state government have, are sort of known, tracked. But that’s not necessarily the case in data,” Kleykamp said.

“This idea of managing data as an asset, as a thing of value that we’ve invested in over time is growing,” Kleykamp said. “Recognizing that we should know what data we have, who has it, seems like a logical step to enhance the way we manage and use data.”

 

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