Data, in its many iterations, is essential material for public and private decision making. Data helps us interpret the past, chart a course for the future, and/or direct areas for discovery – all in the service of facilitating the decision-making process. The problem with data is it is unruly: it can be in different forms with different biases; it can be everywhere and nowhere, scattered about with varying degrees of organization and purpose; it can be overwhelming as there is so much of it from so many sources. Learning to navigate all this data by providing order to it is no easy feat. But when done well the payoff is at least two-fold: (1) decision makers are armed with a valuable tool to make better decisions; and (2) others wrestling with unruly data problems of their own have a possible blue print to bring order to their data.
Take the issue of the well-being of our children, their health, their education: are we being successful in providing the environment for our children to succeed? The answer to this question is something we take great interest in at all levels of society (family, neighborhood, locally, regionally, and nationally). Fortunately, there is no shortage of data to provide us with insight as to our successes with children or identifying areas where we are falling short. The trick lies in bringing order to all that unruly data – identifying all the relevant data, bringing order to it, and making it easily accessible – so that we can use it as a powerful tool to inform our decision making.
Imagine a website that brought together data from 35 public data sources with 600 measures of child health and well-being encompassing:
- Child Safety
- Children with Special Health Care Needs
- Education and Child Care
- Emotional and Behavioral Health
- Environmental Health
- Family Economics
- Physical Health
This website exists! Kidsdata.org
Join us in Arlington, Va. July 17th & 18th, 2018 at APDU’s annual conference to learn more about navigating the public data around us by learning how Kidsdata.org was pulled together and how it has been used to inform decision making around children’s issues in the state of California.