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Reflections on APDU 2017

By Cliff Cook, President, Association of Public Data Users

This past week APDU held a very successful 40th annual conference in Arlington, VA.  With the meeting fresh in mind, this is a good moment for reflections on themes that emerged across the various speakers and sessions. First though, I want to thank all our sponsors, speakers and our staff from CREC who ably handled the many logistical challenges.

What I found most striking as both a participant and sometimes moderator is the relentless focus on the need to change governance and policy arrangements around data.  The interest, demand for and sheer quantity of data generated today is leaving behind policies often dating to an era of mainframe computing and strictly siloed data sets, where data was considered a minor part of IT.  Yet, these institutional holdovers may confound efforts to develop innovative policies and, in particular, link data sets both within and between producers to fully tap their potential. The flip side of this problem is that we have begun to recognize this as a fundamental impediment to progress.

Keynote speakers, panels and sponsors addressed data governance from different vantage points.  Nancy Potok, eight months into her tenure as Chief Statistician of United States, focused her keynote on the priorities for the federal statistical system.  The panel discussion on the Commission on Evidence Based Policymaking emphasized that asking  public data to serve the public interest in the 21st century requires new federal programming and legislation to give agencies and researchers unhindered access to data. Chief among their concerns is how to accomplish this goal while respecting Americans’ concerns about privacy.

Echoing one of the recommendations of the Commission’s recently released report, George Aiken and Gary Yakimov discussed the need to separate management of data resources from IT.  They called for the creation of a new type of organizational role centered around data and headed by a senior-level manager, a Chief Data Officer in Aiken’s words, who will take charge of developing data governance and policy setting, while managing an agency’s overall data program.

The need for new governance arrangements extends to the private sector as well. Stefaan Verlhurst, from the GovLab at NYU, cited how the emerging market for both public and private data will drive the creation of a suite of new data sharing arrangements, in particular data collaboratives. Data.world, a conference sponsor, gave an Ignite lighting presentation on their use of the linked open data concept, pioneered by Tim Berners-Lee, as way to connecting a wide range of desperate data across topics and organizations into a single seamless “data web”.

My flight is just approaching now Boston so this is a good point at which to wrap up this post.  Be sure to join us at APDU in 2018!

2017 Annual Conference

2017 APDU Annual Conference

Communicating Data

Innovate. Integrate. Communicate.

September 13-14, 2017
Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City
550 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202 

Online RegistrationPDF Registration

Agenda – Speaker List

2017 APDU Data Viz Awards – Winners

Be a Sponsor

APDU is pleased to announce the 2017 APDU Conference! Packed with more content than ever before, join us for a conference that promises to grapple with the key issues of the day: the federal budget’s impact on the Census and other key statistical agencies, the transformation of statistics as we monitor the on-going shift from relying on surveys to greater integration of administrative and private data, and the new and creative approaches that data producers are taking to Communicate Data.

Mark your calendar today for September 13-14, 2017 in Arlington, VA. The 2017 APDU Annual Conference is packed with sessions created by your colleagues and in response to your needs. APDU is the ONLY place that you can learn about how data science comes together in the public sector and how new data management techniques are being employed in a wide array of agencies to meet data customer needs.

Featured speakers include new Chief Statistician of the United States Nancy Potok and Sarah Cohen of the New York Times.

Plan to submit your best graphic, image, or infographic for the 2nd annual Data Viz Awards.

Get to know your colleagues working as data managers and data scientists in a variety of agencies, public and private, university and nonprofit. APDU is where the data silos collide and learn from one another – the very point where you can learn about innovation and bring it back to your own organization.

Join us. Register today!

Conference Registration Fees* 
Non-Members Individual & Organizational Members Premium Organizational Members
Early Bird Registration
(On or before August 18)
$645 $475 $420
Full Price Registration
(After August 18)
$720 $525 $470

 

Thanks to our exhibitors:

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