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GCN : October and November 2016
52 GCN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM increases to adapt to evolving business needs. The OCIO relied on agile development processes and an open dialogue with stakeholders to revamp the dashboard. That approach not only resulted in more features at launch, but it also produced a pipeline of additional enhancements planned for the future. “Utilizing a user-centric design and simple yet pow- erful features, the IT Dash- board provides a robust view into federal IT invest- ment spending in a more transparent, accessible and human-centered fashion,” said Sean Casey, OCIO’s chief of policy, budget and communications. — Stephanie Kanowitz Data-driven decision-making An open-data platform helps Prince George’s County, Md., officials make decisions about allocating resources and find ways to improve citizen services When officials in Prince George’s County, Md., priori- tized government transpar- ency, it sparked a multiyear, countywide open-data initia- tive. At the heart of the project is Open Prince George’s County. OpenPGC is a Socrata- powered display layer for a centralized data warehouse that connects county data sources, customer relationship management applications and case management tools. The Office of Information Technol- ogy wanted to access every major system that provided services to county residents and supported back-office functions, CIO Vennard Wright told GCN. The platform allows gov- ernment employees to tap into datasets and real-time information via dashboards, applications and interactive tools. It includes data tables, performance reports and GIS- based maps. OpenPGC tracks the county’s performance in areas as diverse as education, urban planning and public safety, and it helps officials make data-driven decisions about where to allocate resources. For example, one tool shows The Data Format Description Language is incorporating open standards and security into mission-critical military data When it comes to sharing mission- critical data quickly, dueling formats are the enemy. So the Defense Depart- ment is developing tools and stan- dards to make such sharing easier and more secure. DOD’s Data Format Description Language, nicknamed Daffodil, is an open-standard modeling language that ensures that data is properly inspected and filtered as it moves securely across classification bound- aries as efficiently as possible. Until recently, filtering most non-XML mili- tary data formats had to be done with custom-developed solutions — each of which required time-consuming and expensive testing and certification. “Daffodil is also really about solving this whole data format problem once and for all,” said Michael Beckerle, principal of engineering at Tresys, the contractor that has been leading development of Daffodil for DOD. There are dozens of enterprise data-format tools in the marketplace, but they’re either too expensive or not comprehensive enough for a govern- ment agency’s breadth of data, he added. Also, many data-format tools would lock an agency into the com- pany’s proprietary technology. “An open standard and an excellent open-source implementation are the only way to really change things for the better,” Beckerle said. “ These days there’s lots of news about open-source software in gov- ernment and open datasets and the tension between openness and privacy or security,” he said, adding that DOD’s case is especially interesting because the agency needed a system that is comprehensive and standardized, with the cost and quality benefits of open- source technology. But many of DOD’s data formats are not published and instead are classified or labeled “For Official Use Only.” This year is an important milestone for Daffodil because, after almost a decade in development, the technol- ogy has become mature enough to support reading and understanding non-XML data in a large-scale way. That means a single Daffodil-based inspection engine can review and transform data contents regardless of their format. In turn, that will allow agencies to more easily comply with new data publishing laws and execu- tive orders mandating the sharing of government data. — Karen Epper Hoffman DOD BRINGS DATA SHARING INTO FULL BLOOM 1116gcn_032-055.indd 52 10/6/16 10:59 AM
August and September 2016
January and February 2017