Sharing Government Data in a Way it Can Be Useful for Everyone

Sharing Government Data in a Way it Can Be Useful for Everyone

There’s no Statue of Liberty (yet) welcoming government data to the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave. But if there was, this might be the inscription on it. The rise of the Internet and the demand for more open government has resulted in initiatives such as the U.S. government’s Data.gov database sharing site. To cite just a few examples, with this data: Businesses can use Census data on housing, income and education to better plan everything from store locations to hiring, sales and production. Consumers can track the status of product recalls, government rankings of health care providers or crime rates when looking for housing. Citizen or advocacy groups can track the status of legislation, government contracts and political contributions. Investors, planners, policymakers and interest groups can use economic information such as gross national product to measure economic growth, and better plan government and public investment and economic policies. To meet the rising demand for data and government “transparency,” as of 2012 at least forty-three governments and international organizations worldwide have made more than one million data sets available, in areas ranging from education to health, energy and commerce. Not Just Data: Insights But pre-chosen subsets of data from a government agency are just snippets of reality. They may not contain all the data a user may need or present it in an easily usable format. These partial data sets in unusable formats make it difficult, if not impossible, to combine different forms of data in creative ways. It is such “mashups” that unleash insights from data, allowing users to answer new questions in new and unpredictable ways. Using “mashups,” for example: Citizen advocates can overlap emissions and weather data on maps to identify sources of pollution for remedial action. The unemployed can use the Employment Market Explorer app, a Google Maps mashup, to compare unemployment rates among communities. Home buyers can view a database of crime by type before choosing a neighborhood in which to     look for a home. Parents in Chicago can assess their child’s chances of getting into a selective public school based on their address. Consumers can check the quality ratings of care facilities before choosing a provider for an aging parent. Health care providers, vaccine producers or payers can track disease outbreaks in real time. Economists can use financial databases to build sophisticated models to forecast market prices and employment levels....

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Six EDI Hassles You Never Have to Face Again

Six EDI Hassles You Never Have to Face Again

By Howard W. Sabrin, executive vice president. I recently got off a one hour call with an EDI (electronic data interchange) veteran, discussing his experiences with the venerable data sharing format. EDI has been around since the ‘60s, and for some purposes it’s absolutely the way to go. But hearing the questions this EDI user asked made me realize how much extra work EDI customers are doing, especially if all they need to do is share relational databases. Folks who’ve been using EDI for years may not realize how much of the work that costs extra time and dollars in EDI is handled automatically by relational databases. Here are six quick examples of EDI hassles you can avoid, without damage to your business, through direct database sharing. Converting data to a standardized EDI form on the sending end, and converting it back to a form the recipient’s systems can use. If you’re sharing relational databases, all both sides need to do is agree on a common database design (e.g. tables, columns, data types). Since all work is done within the database, there’s no need to get network, security, firewall, or software development staff involved. If any data must be pre- or post-processed, it can be done using standard database tools by your database staff. Avoiding duplicate entries and other data integrity issues. Database transaction processing capabilities prevents data from being written unless it can be written without error and repeat data writes until they are successful. Each data entry is tagged with a unique identifier set, preventing the same data from being entered repeatedly. No further coding or other work with specific EDI formats is required. Creating an audit trail to assure no loss or corruption of data. Using familiar database queries, the source and destination data can easily be compared to the last byte to assure integrity. Unlike EDI systems where transactions must be tracked through multiple components, the results of these simple queries serve as your audit trail. Integration with ERP and CRM systems. Since many of these systems are built on relational databases, business data from one partner’s database platform can be transferred directly and securely over the Web to another partner’s database. No integration or reformatting of data to match specific EDI formats work is required. Agreeing on, and implementing, common security protocols. DataPortal uses secure Web protocols (e.g. HTTPS) and has layers of password...

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A Visual Explanation of DataPortal™ vs. EDI – Our Data Sharing Infographic

A Visual Explanation of DataPortal™ vs. EDI – Our Data Sharing Infographic

In the past, sharing complex data over the web in a quick and efficient manner was a daunting, and often times, overwhelming  process. Until now! We’ve developed an easy to use, web based software application that takes the stress, aggravation and expense out of sharing complex data over the web. Meet DataPortal™. To help demonstrate the simplicity of DataPortal™ and why it is the best solution for your data sharing needs, we’ve put together this amazing data sharing infographic that will walk you through the ins and outs of DataPortal™. We cover the basics from what sets DataPortal™ apart from other data sharing tools like EDI to how DataPortal™ works and who has has success with it. Scroll down to learn more » Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below): Courtesy of:...

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DataPortal vs. Traditional Database Replication

DataPortal vs. Traditional Database Replication

With the growth in complex global supply chains, the sharing of complex business data, often in the forms of relational databases, has become one of the most in-demand business needs over the last ten years. The desire for raw government and private sector data to be shared across multiple platforms has only increased since 2009, when President Obama put laws in place requiring the data be made public. While Obama’s bill does a great job in mandating the kinds of information that needs to be made public (contracts, audits, inspector general reports, etc.), it is rather vague with regard to details on how the information will need to be provided. According to experts John Wonderlich, Policy Director at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation and Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, in order to provide any value in the information being shared, the entire back end database needs to be shared. It is impossible for any person or organization to determine how others will use, analyze or cross-reference the data being provided so making the data, in its raw format (relational databases) available is essential. DataPortal helps companies meet this need with database sharing using cloud technology that is a vast improvement over traditional database replication. DataPortal provides instant and effortless data sharing over the web, allowing multiple recipients to receive the same full database by simply clicking on a URL. DataPortal also keeps data in standard database form and works across multiple vendors, platforms and operating systems. The tool also offers a more flexible and efficient alternative to traditional Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) by eliminating unnecessary conversion of data, as well as the costly set up involved with EDI. Data is transferred from a DataPortal server to any supported database system (including MS SQL Server, Access, Oracle, DB2, MySQL and Firebird) using a DataPortal client – either Applets, that do not require installation, or Applications, which must be installed but provide more features than the simple Applet client. How does DataPortal Differ from Traditional Database Replication? With traditional database replication, when data is updated at the source, it must ripple through all replicated databases before the update can take effect. This is time-consuming and can cause conflict if multiple updates are being conducted at the same time. With DataPortal, the data being updated is read and written directly to and from the database without the unnecessary...

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DataPortal Eases Data Sharing Burden for Supply Chain Management

DataPortal Eases Data Sharing Burden for Supply Chain Management

When a major aerospace manufacturer needed help bringing new suppliers on board, it turned to DataPortal. This manufacturer works with hundreds of suppliers sourcing specialized components ranging from custom fasteners to sophisticated avionics.  In the fast-changing aviation industry, recruiting a cadre of suppliers who can meet demand quality specifications while ramping production quickly at the right price is critical for success. Yet this manufacturer was finding it difficult to even evaluate prospective suppliers, much less start doing business with them. Just sharing information about the details of future production plans and designs required each potential supplier to go through the lengthy and expensive process of implementing an electronic data interchange (EDI) system. As an attempt at more agile data sharing, the manufacturer started providing order data that could be viewed on Web pages. However, many orders involved thousands of items and Web page data could not readily be processed by business applications. The order data really needed to be delivered where it could be directly accessed by business applications – through sharing a relational database. The manufacturer, and we, thought there had to be an easier way for the supply chain to be managed. Our solution was an easy-to-use Web portal that would allow a potential or actual supplier to log in and easily see the manufacturer’s future orders. This portal provided data on both short-term needs as well as future, six-month forecasts to give all potential suppliers the widest view into the manufacturer’s needs. Our work with this customer was one of the first uses of DataPortal technology for sharing relational databases over the Web. Across industries, more and more trading partners are sharing more and more information – everything from production plans to engineering change orders to media files – outside of traditional EDI or ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. In these days of just-in-time inventory, short product cycles and relentless cost pressures, they must share this data quickly and efficiently. Our DataPortal software enables secure, instant and effortless sharing of relational databases in their original, relational form across the Web. It’s as easy as sharing a URL, with no programming, configuration, firewall modification, data conversion or even client software installation required. The need to recruit new suppliers is only one of the use cases  DataPortal fills. It is, of course, just as useful for a specialized supplier who can meet a custom need for a global...

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