Esri User Conference 2021 and the Convergence of GIS and Data Governance
Written by Sheila Steffenson, CEO, 1Spatial Americas
Well, another UC has come and gone and while I really wish it had been in person (as I am sure so did 10s of thousands of others…including Jack Dangermond), as usual the plenary and variety of user presentations did not disappoint.
This year we had the pleasure of being a virtual exhibitor and welcomed many new faces as well as existing customers to our booth for a chat, introduction or to share our customer success stories and/or products and solution packages.
A major focus for us this year was the growing need for Data Governance and how our 1Integrate automated rules engine and its companion data submission portal product, 1Data Gateway, can help organizations implement data governance enterprise wide that can serve them now and into the future. This year's plenary and user presentations clearly reinforced that focus.
This was my 29th year in a row attending and one of the big takeaways that came up for me occurred during Jack’s presentation of the various user’s efforts. I realize he does this every year, but as I sat there and stared at the myriad of different use cases, it occurred to me how far we have come in 29 years! Yes, there were always interesting use cases, but it struck me how much geospatial technology is now being used as a mission critical decision-making tool.
I believe Jack’s vision for a long time has been for organizations of all industries and all sizes to realize GIS as a central part of the enterprise ecosystem….and we are there.
Further contemplating, it struck me that the importance of the decisions being made based on the analysis done with such powerful tools are only as good as the underlying data. Thus, today there is an even greater need for data governance. It is more critical than ever that the quality of the data being used to create the information to support decision makers must be reliable, especially now that important efforts such as understanding climate change, ensuring sustainability, and supporting emergency initiatives are being assessed with GIS.
Also, just as important (and near and dear to my heart) are the applications that focus on social equity such as voting patterns and accessibility, access to health care and availability of healthy food…not just for some but for all. And there are other initiatives that make all our lives easier such as traffic management, streetlight maintenance and ensuring broadband coverage. And not to forget applications and solutions that help businesses operate more efficiently, effectively and economically such as optimizing delivery routes, analyzing placement of distribution centers and assessment of agricultural markets. And so many more!
All of these applications play an important part in daily life, but solid data governance that ensures data quality and reliability through automated processes based on Subject Matter Experts’ (SMEs) knowledge of the data requirements are needed now more than ever. Why use automation for these efforts? Well for one, automation of data validation ensures that the subjectivity that can often occur with more manual validation processes is eliminated. Automation provides a much more efficient way to manage data governance, leaving staff the time to focus on the organizations actual mission.
Automation of data governance rules also ensures that the data will be continually governed now and in the future, as opposed to an individual project to validate and clean up the data at a single point in time. Automation makes data governance a process rather than an event. And when the data validation rules are established to meet the specific expectations of the data required to accomplish the organization’s mission, decision makers can feel much more confident in the decisions they make, both big and small.
Rules written from a positive standpoint, meaning based on how the data must look and act instead of rules that look for a specific set of errors, allow organizations to find anomalies in their data that they might never have found before. This enables them to have confidence that such anomalies won’t be found after erroneous decisions are made and it is too late. And lastly, considering the massive influx of data today and the need to keep it current, manual QA/QC, change detection and integration is just not a viable solution. Automation of these processes enables organizations to remain current and to retain confidence in the ongoing accuracy of their data.
To meet the enterprise business needs of organizations today, data validation must be able to handle databases of any size, must be data agnostic (meaning work with the many formats of data that exist in today’s organizations (spatial and non-spatial), and must be able to perform validations within the individual databases as well as cross database validations to ensure the governance of the data at the enterprise level.
Thinking through all of this, I realized 1Spatial’s automated Enterprise Master Data Management Solutions are needed now more than ever. If you would like to explore how we can help ensure your organization’s data governance please visit 1Spatial.com and/or contact us!