Using Data Analysis for Better Decision Making

Source: Sanford Hess, Government Finance Review, June 2019

Let’s start with the bad news: There are no magic solutions here. Data connectivity is an aspirational goal, like operational efficiency. As defined in this article, “data connectivity” is the act of taking information from different computer systems and combining it to gain better insights. As you have probably seen already, that’s harder than it sounds. Why is data connectivity so difficult? It makes sense that computer systems should be able to talk to each other. And in fact, they can. There are endless ways for computer systems to share information, starting with the prosaic .csv file (.csv = comma-separated values) and going all the way through realtime direct access. The problem is the data…. The challenge of data connectivity is finding the commonality between systems. How do you make a financial system “speak” to a property database? Or police arrests? They usually have different transaction formats, reference codes, and even inconsistent code values to represent the same thing….