About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 803-811
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain

MAKING DATA USEFUL: PROVIDING ENHANCED ACCESS TO PUBLIC DATA THROUGH WEB AND APP TOOLS TO FACILITATE BETTER LOCAL DECISIONMAKING

J.W. Sipple1, J. Vink1, J. Francis1, J. Williams1, J. Morgan2, S. Brady3, A. Tait3

1Cornell University (UNITED STATES)
2Spencer-Van Etten Central School District (UNITED STATES)
3Prism Decisions Systems (UNITED STATES)
Problem:
School and community leaders are inundated with information and political pressures as they make short- and long-term decisions. Faced with ongoing demographic and enrollment changes and the current fiscal challenge (fiscal crisis in many areas), improved understanding of demographic, performance, and financial trends is central to improved and enhanced long-term planning. School district budget planning is often narrowly focussed on the next budget year without adequate attention paid to the longer term (2-10 year) implications of the current decisions. The very notion of longer term budget projections is sometimes foreign, but often just not calculated. Hence, local budgetary decisions may have unknown (or harmful?) effects on the long-term stability of the school district, which will have a substantial impact on the community served by the school.

Current state of data sharing:
State and national governments systematically collect and (often with a delay) disseminate demographic, performance, and financial data to the public. While the dissemination occurs, the format of the data typically takes one of two forms. The data may appear in a spreadsheet or database with each year of data found in a new table or form. The burden of linking together data tables to allow for the analysis of trends falls to the end user - most without the technical skills or inclination to functionally use the available data. Second, the school or school district data is often released in single .pdf files, as is the case with U.S. school districts responding to the reporting requirements of the No Child Left Behind Law. This allows for an end user to see one year of data for one school district at a time with no ability to compare across districts or across time. Most municipal data systems have similar limitations.

Innovation:
For three years, we have been immersed in a project to take publicly available data, use our collective expertise and connections, and create a set of data tools to allow enhanced access to data such that it informs local decision makers. This has been a four stage process thus far. First, we identified relevant data sets made available by New York State and the U.S. Census Bureau that include demographic, financial, and performance data. Second, we assessed need and interest across the state using our connections and access to school district and community leaders across the state. Third, we built a suite of web-Apps that made use of the available data, but in a way that takes advantage of GIS, visual data analysis, long-term trend analyses (18 years of data), and data forecasting to allow end users intuitive and user-friendly formats, visualization, and manipulation. Finally, we have built an iApp (for the iPad) for budget forecasting and scenario building. The proverbial “bestcase” and ”worst case” scenarios can be compared and manipulated in real time using intuitive sliders. The budget data can also be viewed in one of three budget details (simple, moderate, and detailed), in dollar or annual percent change formats.

At INTED we will present our work, as part of a larger research project, including the data tools and evidence from local decisionmakers about their use of the data tools and implications for local decisionmaking and future tool development. Central to this paper is the analysis of the value added by the data tools in local decisionmaking.
@InProceedings{SIPPLE2012MAK,
author = {Sipple, J.W. and Vink, J. and Francis, J. and Williams, J. and Morgan, J. and Brady, S. and Tait, A.},
title = {MAKING DATA USEFUL: PROVIDING ENHANCED ACCESS TO PUBLIC DATA THROUGH WEB AND APP TOOLS TO FACILITATE BETTER LOCAL DECISIONMAKING},
series = {6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-5563-5},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {803-811}}
TY - CONF
AU - J.W. Sipple AU - J. Vink AU - J. Francis AU - J. Williams AU - J. Morgan AU - S. Brady AU - A. Tait
TI - MAKING DATA USEFUL: PROVIDING ENHANCED ACCESS TO PUBLIC DATA THROUGH WEB AND APP TOOLS TO FACILITATE BETTER LOCAL DECISIONMAKING
SN - 978-84-615-5563-5/2340-1079
PY - 2012
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2012
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2012 Proceedings
SP - 803
EP - 811
ER -
J.W. Sipple, J. Vink, J. Francis, J. Williams, J. Morgan, S. Brady, A. Tait (2012) MAKING DATA USEFUL: PROVIDING ENHANCED ACCESS TO PUBLIC DATA THROUGH WEB AND APP TOOLS TO FACILITATE BETTER LOCAL DECISIONMAKING, INTED2012 Proceedings, pp. 803-811.
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