State’s Commitment Bodes Well for Data Liberators
From: Sandra Shewry – The California Healthcare Foundation
October 7, 2016
When government data are freely available for everyone to use and republish as they wish, they can drive social change. We are fortunate to have leaders in Sacramento who are committed to removing restrictions on the availability of data and promoting their use.
Making government information available to the public in machine-readable formats can facilitate government transparency, accountability, and public participation in government decisionmaking. When numbers are presented in useful ways that infuse policymaking with evidence, we can make better-informed decisions. Open data provides an opportunity to elevate public discourse through facts that are communicated in ways that resonate with all of us.
CHCF has been a proponent, funder, and partner in California’s open data efforts over the past five years. Our support has focused on building the internal capacity for state leaders to publish data and on encouraging use of these data by public interest groups, activists, entrepreneurs, and news organizations across California.
CHCF partnered with state data leaders to develop a portal through which data from all 12 California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) departments are made available. Likewise, we supported work to help all CHHS departments implement guidelines to make more detailed data available while preserving individual privacy. CHHS’ data portal now includes more than 150 data sets. With the development of the single data library, collaboration across departments has increased.
The process of liberating the data brought senior state leaders into contact with entrepreneurs and helped spark interest within CHHS to develop, in collaboration with FUSE Corps, California’s first Health Innovation Office. The office will lead a process for responding more efficiently to external data requests.
In addition to infrastructure funding, CHCF helped the state connect with external stakeholders. We provided assistance to build up CHHS’s capacity to communicate data releases and supported large events in Sacramento, regional code-a-thons, roundtable discussions in Sacramento between state staff and a range of audiences (including county health officials, entrepreneurs, and journalists), and community meetings with civic coders in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Jose, and elsewhere. Much of this was done through a program that deployed local health data ambassadors to connect CHHS to the data interests and needs of local communities.
We are proud of the open data movement’s achievements and are encouraged by the enthusiasm, leadership, and accomplishments of its members. We remain supportive of efforts to use data to inform decisionmaking. CHCF funding in the coming year will support the state’s transition to internal support and/or alternate funding approaches designed to institutionalize open data activities across CHHS departments. To the extent that CHCF provides additional funding, it will be prioritized in areas that advance one of our programmatic goals.
In the next year CHCF is partnering with CHHS on projects to:
We look forward to building on the gains that have been made in expanding and promoting access to health data and to partnering with open data colleagues from across the state on these and other projects that advance our mutual goal to make health care work for all Californians.
Originally posted on The CHCF Blog: http://www.chcf.org/articles/2016/10/states-commitment-bodes-well