Implementing Your data engagement project

Data engagement is the concept of bringing beyond the portal, using this information to engage citizens in multiple contexts and improve their lives through better service delivery. The best way to do this is to merge your data and  communication strategy, seeing them as critical to each other’s success. We had a conversation between Walter Sosa, Director of International Operations, and Mark Zadroga, U.S. Sales Manager, talking about the importance of those topics.


If you think about the potential of the right use of It, it is key to see a return on our investments in open data, to transform agency insights into tangible benefits for citizens, and to establish open data as a recognized success story with excellent return on investment for the majority of agencies. 


For now, we’ll cover some high-level principles of interaction in this article – and moving on, let’s dive into the details and real-world examples to give you the point. Get started on your own data engagement strategy. 

Publishing data is not enough 


Just creating an online portal does not guarantee that people will use it, or even realize that it exists. Even the prettiest portal won’t attract people, add value, or drive action on its own. To deliver real benefits, agents need to create “demand” around their information “supply”  – that is the goal of data interaction. 


“From the IT side, we have to find the scenarios where the data is not being received  in the correct way, so that we have to be able to provide solutions to integrate that information faster”, Walter said.


Common challenges include low traffic, lukewarm adoption, internal resistance, and lack of critical agency information. Data Interoperability serves as a proactive approach to combat these challenges. Instead of just publishing data, agencies should leverage communication strategies to: 


Highlight data-driven services and applications (transit, licensing, security, and voting) 

Drive traffic to data outside the portal (e.g., embedded charts, maps, and dashboards) 

Encourage widespread adoption of open data (e.g., highlight ROI , demonstrating the use of business cases) 

 Data management vs produces results 


“You have data in your organization in many forms, sometimes in applications, running in some laptops or some additional applications across different teams, in all of them, they use different ways of working, so it’s complex to unify the main idea of the data, that is the goal to achieve for us.” Mark said.


For most projects, the primary goal is information management (providing infrastructure and publishing datasets). But the secondary use of open data is to produce results – to put information in the service of agencies and citizens. 


Considering supply and demand – no business expends resources to build production capacity and increase product supply without a plan to meet or increase demand. 


Similarly, agencies devote resources to creating information resources by creating portals and organizing processes there. The next step is to secure and meet  information needs by integrating data engagement into useful services that citizens actually use. Finally, a communication strategy is needed to connect citizens with its value. This is done with an engagement strategy. 

More reach, more value 

The return on investment of a data engagement project grows exponentially with an agency’s ability to reach the maximum number of informed citizens. The greater your reach, the more likely you are to convert data into civic actions, such as registering for a service or updating a pet’s vaccine. 


When agencies can quantify the return on their investment in data, it becomes easier to validate the effort and cost of collecting and sharing that data. Michigan is an example of how increasing reach can impact outcomes. In 2012, Michigan embarked on an effort to grow its audience with strategic communication methods. Using the GovDelivery Network, Michigan increased its total reach to over a million subscribers. 


When it came time to roll out the new entertainment licensing system, Michigan was able to let more people know about the changes thanks to ongoing digital communication that led to less confusion. 

It challenges 


  • Work to maintain transparency by updating digital policies and privacy notices to reflect changes in the organization’s processes. 


  • Embrace data flows by developing a deep understanding of how information is stored, deployed, and accessed, including vendor security measures. 


  • Consider taking additional measures to protect data, such as pseudonyms. You can rely on a secure Windows VPN to protect your network, especially if you have a BYOD policy.


Leveraging data for effective messaging 

Finally, “your communications can also benefit from your own organization by using it to add credibility to your messaging campaigns” Mark said. This continues the process of raising public awareness of the data available, while also making the message stronger. 


For example, visualizing the number of flu cases last year can have a positive effect on the number of people who decide to take action and get a flu shot. The graph shows how the expected amount of food waste that could be diverted from a landfill can affect the number of people who choose to participate in a composting program. We’ll have more tips on how data can help you craft effective messaging in future articles. 


As agencies begin to open conversations about their data, they will see entirely new ways to get results, paving the way for more data engagement. From Heinsohn, we think that this topic continues to have incredible potential that will only be realized through strategic engagement with citizens, so if you want to know more about it, go to our Business intelligence services.

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