The NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC) is delivering a range of enterprise and open data products to inform the government and community in response to COVID-19. This blog discusses how strong data governance and effective data stewardship practices at the DAC have helped deliver some of these for the NSW Government COVID-19 Data Program, and reflects on learnings from that perspective.
Supporting a Whole of Government data response
Under the program, the NSW DAC, in collaboration with cluster agencies, provides Ministers, Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries and Senior agency staff with access to agency and whole of government dashboards and visualisations in one place.
This is facilitated through streamlined governance, robust access management processes, and on-boarding personnel to a multi-factor authenticated (MFA) secure portal. The DAC has strong data governance and security practices, and access to the portal is driven by these practices. Decision-makers from all 9 Clusters of NSW Government have secure access to this portal and are therefore empowered to draw insights from visualisations and reports from across NSW, Commonwealth and Local Governments, and the private sector, all at once.
An exercise in effective data stewardship
Stewardship of data involves, among other things, ensuring and enhancing the data’s fitness for purpose.
The ‘fitness’, often referred to as data quality, has many competing dimensions to it. The data response to COVID-19 has often been driven by a sense of urgency, and therefore the dimension that stands out through the course of the program so far is timeliness. Effective stewardship practices at the DAC have been key to achieving this, as they enable the data received through secure methods to be made available for analytics promptly and with minimal intervention.
The program informs decision-making by performing and supporting modelling relating to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. Some examples of data products the program delivers:
- Agency and whole of government visualisations and insights
- Secure, timely and compliant data sharing between government agencies
- A range of open data and visualisations available to the public
Detailed cataloguing – an important data stewardship practise at the DAC – assists greatly in deriving maximum utility from data assets, promoting re-use and ultimately broadening the data’s purpose.
The DAC’s agile approach has been critical to adapting and delivering data products across a variety of themes and use cases. The use of agile methods assists greatly in iteratively building on existing data products, while adapting to new requirements and use cases. In doing so, agile methods complement effective stewardship practices.