Why Government Agencies Need Integrated Data
Government agencies need integrated data more than most organizations. Why? To better serve the public. Dedicated agents using different systems risk making policy decisions that could negatively impact citizens at large or individuals on a case-by-case basis. Legacy systems and disparate sources create chaos for agencies trying to support other government organizations. Integrated data allows government agencies to collaborate, connect, and respond to the needs of the public more efficiently by accessing accurate, real-time data.
What is integrated data, and why is it important?
As the name implies, data integration is the process of combining valuable information from different sources into unified, clean data sets to be stored in a data warehouse or data lake. The goal is to provide users with access to clean data sources to use business intelligence tools to uncover insights that matter to their organization and the public. When a report is generated from different manual data integration sources, the question of accurate data arises. Questionable data can jeopardize the ability of users to leverage analytics to make better decisions. In short, so are the results if the data quality is in question.
How data integration works
The details of the data integration process are complex. The data integration process broadly involves data integration architects and data engineers who typically take three significant steps:
- Extracting data from the original, often disconnected source systems
- Transforming, cleaning, and converting the data to fit into a predetermined standardized format to allow access to a variety of applications
- Loading the data to store into its final destination system
A well-designed data integration solution allows users to move forward with a unified dataset. This development process of data mining creates efficiencies by serving multiple applications, typically from the cloud.
Types of data integration
While each approach has its pros and cons, including costs, resources, and requirements, there are five primary types of data integration. Because of the vast array of potential use cases, most government agencies rely on more than one type of data integration to meet their needs.
- Manual data integration with a data engineer
- Automated middleware that transforms data from multiple databases to different applications
- Common storage data integration where data is transformed and then copied to a data warehouse
- Uniform data access integration (UDAI) keeps the source data in one place but allows data replication for display and usage in other applications
- Application-based data integration tool where specific software does real-time retrieval and transformation of data from multiple sources for use in different systems
Data Integration in Government Agencies
Government agencies collect big data daily through public sector activities ranging from managing social benefits and monitoring national health to recording traffic data and processing crime reports. For example, the Velosimo GovOS Seamless Docs to Microsoft Teams Integration Connector automatically posts GovOS SeamlessDocs form data to selected Teams Channels. Data integration gives government agencies the management systems they need to improve public services by optimizing and analyzing information and sharing it with others. Integrating data from multiple internal and external sources improve company business processes like customer service interaction and support today by providing a single view of a person. Government agencies can benefit from the same data and application integration experience, even when handling sensitive information.
Benefits of integrated data
The benefits of data integration are virtually endless. One example is how government agencies that use the Accela Civic Platform to automate and streamline core civic processes on behalf of the citizens they serve can add the Velosimo integration connector to connect to the Laserfiche document management system for easy document search and retrieval. This simple off-the-shelf connection saves time by giving operators insights into critical parts of a transaction, smart recovery activities, and connected system outages.
Another off-the-shelf example is the Velosimo GovOS SeamlessDocs to Microsoft OneDrive integration connector, which automatically and dynamically stores online applications in OneDrive. Government agencies can easily map agency-specific content and audit submissions through the automatically created list. Any time a government agency needs to retrieve information from more than one source to complete a task or assignment, they are looking at an opportunity for data integration to accelerate that process.
Delivers more valuable data
Government agencies can only act on the information available. Today’s tools allow agencies to combine data in meaningful ways to gain more insights into how and where to apply resources. By providing better access to accurate, real-time data on demand, agencies can better and more efficiently work to serve the needs of the public they serve.
Improves collaboration and unification of systems
A massive benefit of data integration is the immediate improvement of interagency and team collaboration. Data integration creates a pathway toward the unification of systems that also improves overall efficiency.
Saves time and boosts efficiency
Time saved is an obvious benefit to data integration, as users eliminate search time and manual errors arising from data transfer and manipulation. Time saved alone boosts agency efficiency and returns valuable time to stretched employees.
The Challenges of Data Integration in Government Agencies
Even with the overwhelming benefits of data integration, government agencies face several challenges in the data integration process, including:
- Justification of integration costs and resources
- Determining data protection and cybersecurity requirements
- Locating, cleansing, and transforming decades of legacy systems data
Frequently Asked Questions
What is data integration?
Data integration is the process of combining data from different sources to provide a singular connected view.
What is a data warehouse?
A data warehouse is a large set of structured data, typically from multiple sources, that helps organizations perform queries and analyses to guide decisions.
What is a data lake?
A data lake is comprised of both structured and unstructured raw data. The users have not yet defined its purpose.
What is an Integrated Data Repository (IDR)?
IDR is a term used to describe a high-volume data warehouse.
What is structured vs. unstructured data?
Structured data follows a pre-defined data model. Unstructured data is stored in its raw form and is processed when used. Rich media, surveillance data, and weather data are all unstructured data.