CalData Project Seeks to Improve Data Use Across State Agencies

CalData's goal is to eventually create a toolkit for training employees to use data effectively, getting more and more state employees engaged with available information.

by Kayla Nick-Kearney, Techwire / March 27, 2017

Multiple state agencies gathered Tuesday, March 21, at the "CalData" showcase to discuss how agencies are using data to improve operations. One goal of CalData is to eventually create a toolkit for training employees to use data effectively, getting more and more state employees engaged with available information.

CalData will “build tools that people can use,” which could include documents and training for the voluntary, opt-in style group, said Zac Townsend, chief data officer for the state of California.

The idea was started when Townsend attended his first working group meeting and floated the idea to get more agencies involved. The working group that eventually became the CalData brand began inviting more agencies in.

About 150 people attended this week's meeting, where presentations included the State Water Board discussing civic engagement through data and the Franchise Tax Board showcasing how it uses data to fight tax fraud. Townsend and the Government Operations Agency Secretary also gave remarks.

The meeting is one in a series of regularly scheduled gatherings where five working groups will create plans for different categories of data use.

1. Open Data Portal

The Department of Health and Human Services and Board of Equalization are working together to train and help each other in the maintenance of data portals the public can reach, for instance. Agencies and departments also are being onboarded onto the statewide, federated data portal, data.ca.gov.

2. Legal/Privacy Matters

Due to data sharing between agencies and academics, protecting Californians' privacy has become a major legal concern. Lawyers for the state are looking to put together best practices for the use of data.

3. Storytelling, Data Visualizations

Agencies recognize that a lot of data exists, but just printing out PDFs and tables does not make it readable for most people. To foster understanding of data, visualizations, graphs and filterable data are the next step.

4. Data Science, Predicative Analytics

Agencies want to inform policy using data. Here they look to eventually make analytics-based decisions, similar to dashboard projects such as Sac2050 or LA2050.

5. Business Intelligence

This group is looking to read the data in operational metrics, how things change over time in each agency’s output. Here data could be used to measure how well departments within an agency are doing.

This article was originally published on Techwire.