Why Data Management is So Crucial for Modern Cities

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In this special guest feature, Heine Krog Iversen, founder and CEO of TimeXtender, discusses three important technology components that work together to form the modern data estate, substantially improving operational efficiencies by reducing the need to conduct time-consuming, manual data manipulation. TimeXtender is a global software company enabling instant access to any type of data in the organization to support advanced analytics and AI. Since founding the company in 2006, Heine has been the chief executive responsible for transforming TimeXtender from a small startup to one of the fastest growing software companies in the world. Heine is driven by one core purpose: to empower every person in every organization on the planet with instant access to data, for any use case they might have, thus enabling them to achieve more and make quality decisions with data, mind and heart.

Cities across the country are getting inundated with data.

Data is being generated and pouring into city halls across the country on a daily basis. Information about citizens, housing, taxes, education, fire and police is growing exponentially. When you consider all this data, it’s easy to see how a public entity like city hall might be overwhelmed.

Having data is a good thing, but only if it’s properly managed. Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges a typical city faces.

The data that city hall collects is often spread across a number of data sources. These individual data silos can cause several issues such as various versions of the same data, archival of outdated records, and difficulty locating information.

Take for example a city’s criminal records. A city might collect criminal records by using an in-house system for incidents and save these in their database. Another platform might be used for 911 calls and police dispatch. And other criminal records might be retrieved from a county-wide, state, or federal corrections management system when needed.  

Collection of crime data from all these disparate data sources can become quite the headache for law enforcement management. Operationally, trying to use multiple systems requires the users to understand how to navigate the different systems while attempting to comprehend the language required to operate each technology.

Ideally, a city could benefit from automating the integration, modelling and management of its crime data into a unified and centralized location. Doing so would help establish a single, trusted and complete data platform to aid law enforcement. Having more accurate insights can go a long way to assist police as immediate access to real-time insights are often needed. To do so, the technology would also need to be simple to use, maintain and update for law enforcement users.

A modern data estate, built and maintained by an automated data management platform, can provide a city with this kind of immediate access to the most up-to-date information. The modern data estate enables a city to take advantage of automation to build, deploy, operate and manage their data in a fashion that is easy to prepare, integrate and centralize data. Access to data insights would be accelerated as traditional barriers of trying to locate data or secure approval are removed.

A modern data estate forms the foundation from which law enforcement officials can perform analysis and search criminal activity data, addresses, license plate numbers, crime history and so forth. Combining data sources into a single, consolidated location with a data estate provides one easy-to-understand language for law enforcement to learn from and to take appropriate action.

The modern data estate encompasses three main components.

The Operational Data Exchange (ODX) connects to and gathers all data in its raw form from all sources without data manipulation or cleansing. This approach allows the city (or any organization for that matter) to connect to new data sources as they emerge. This results in all users using one source of raw data. 

The next component is the modern data warehouse (MDW) that is derived from the ODX. The MDW improves, enrichens and consolidates the data and solves data quality issues that may arise. In addition, similar data from different systems can be rationalized and preserved to create golden records. The MDW also holds historical data even when data and sources change, thus helping to govern data, to provide one version of the truth, and to store historical records.

The third component is semantic models, which defines governed models to deliver data in the right context for a front-end visualization tool. This helps achieve simplification of data for analytics, reports, visualization, and dashboards.

These three components work together to form the modern data estate, substantially improving operational efficiencies by reducing the need to conduct time-consuming, manual data manipulation. Of course, saving time at the moment of high stress and when speed is so vital is paramount. It enables police to quickly identify crime suspects based on one view of the city’s data — the most accurate view — from one centralized location.

Time matters but even more so when it comes to helping law enforcement (and the city overall) obtain instant access to relevant crime data to preserve public safety. These objectives can be accomplished much easier with the use of a modern data estate.  

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