It’s always smart to ask: “What happened to the last guy that tried this?” Last week I outlined some major benefits of sharing data. One reader wanted to know how it really works in the real world.
Here’s an example that gets me positive: Ontario’s Peel Children & Youth Initiative (PCYI). Datassist is working with PCYI to assess and build local opportunities for Peel youth. Sharing data among local institutions has made the project a success.
PCYI found ways to share data that acknowledged partner institutions’ different abilities to share. By developing a plan with each partner, PCYI was able to gather a few points of key information from, for example, a school board and a public health department. This demonstrated important patterns about youth issues, while keeping individual data safely anonymous and keeping each institution’s record system intact.
One of PCYI’s biggest data sharing benefits has been more accuracy – resulting in more strategic, responsive service. Kids live in complex worlds, not simple data silos. Sherlock Holmes may be able to see a kid’s clothes and discern their habits, pleasures, fears and potential. For those of us without such superpowers, the insights of data compiled from many consultations helped us figure out where PCYI’s work could make the biggest difference.
Imagine if this sharing went beyond PCYI’s current partners to schools and police districts across the province. Imagine if more data points could be shared. Fortunately, Cincinnati’s ‘Strive’ data sharing program did just that. Strive supports students from “cradle to career”; senior staff Jeff Edmondson’s TED Talk on the initiative tells more. Sharing can be a challenge, but it truly can be done. And when it goes well, it’s well worth our efforts.