InContext

A publication of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

The Indiana Data Partnership: Taking Indiana's data to the next level

Carol O. Rogers
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The Indiana Data Partnership wants to help solve Indiana’s most difficult problems with data.

A little over a year ago, a project got started in Indiana that would attempt to build out all the known information about organizations and who they connect with.

Well, that was a lot to bite off, so the project focused on two issues: the opioid crisis, as well as the alignment of education and the workforce. Even focusing on just two issues was pretty challenging, so we started by focusing on how organizations in Marion County were connected.

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By May 2019, we were so successful in the work of identifying and building databases of organizations and creating visual connections through the programs and services and even funding that the Indiana Data Partnership (https://in.gov/idp) was announced by the Management Performance Hub (MPH). We’ve been working with education and workforce groups to give them a more holistic view of their complex networks.

So what is this partnership?

The goal is to improve service collaboration through network analysis and data sharing. And more broadly, to help solve Indiana’s most difficult problems with new, innovative approaches using evidence—that is, data. In 2017, Lilly Endowment Inc. approved a nearly $3 million grant to the Indiana Management Performance Hub to strengthen the IDP.

The initial partners each brought a combination of expertise and troves of data that we could use to start building out a database of organizations, be they private businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools or government agencies. We combined that with other data available on programs and funding and merged, wherever possible, information on board membership. We built out visualizations to help us “connect the dots” between organizations that had similar purposes or provided the same service or received funding from the same foundation or government agency. And with those cluster maps that helped reveal an ecosystem, we were able to work with key agencies to tell us where we were right and what we got wrong. This improved the knowledge base, while also garnering interest in the organizations sharing their data with MPH and creating a new knowledge base of outcomes.

Outcomes-based data is in its early days and MPH has been at the forefront of utilizing administrative records from key state agencies to help reveal new information on the where, who and sometimes even the why of success and failure with programs. State law requires state agencies to share their data with MPH, but local organizations already want to share their data willingly—to create a feedback loop that can more quickly and inexpensively give them outcomes-anchored answers about what training or youth or substance abuse programs are working.

Who is involved now in the Indiana Data Partnership?

  • MPH is a relatively new state agency whose mission is to provide analytics solutions, aided by its ability to integrate data from multiple state agencies and create evidence-based knowledge that can be used to tackle critical issues, such as infant mortality (one of its very early successes), substance abuse, traffic deaths, brain drain and more.

  • The Indiana Business Research Center is a nearly 100-year old research center at Indiana University both serving and researching the people, workforce and economies of Indiana. It has been building and sharing digital collections of data (STATS Indiana) for more than 30 years and was able to bring its statewide organization data and socio-economic stores of data to bear on the education/workforce issues.

  • The Polis Center, an IUPUI-based center hosting one of the largest community-based information systems in the country (SAVI) and sharing its unique assets-based data stores to help bring a higher resolution of knowledge to the networks being built and visualized for the opioid issue.

  • The IU Public Policy Institute which has a unique structure, with multiple centers focused on government and the nonprofit sectors, as well as economic development. Their experts guide their partners through research and analysis geared to help solve problems and seize opportunities in Indiana’s communities and regions.

Where can we get more info?

The IDP is holding three workshops in September, during which you can:

  • Collaborate with similarly missioned organizations to drive meaningful change
  • Learn how your organization is connected to others in the room and how to utilize those connections
  • Glean insight through a crash-course in network analysis
  • Guide next steps for the IDP through front-lines insight and feedback
  • Identify additional valuable focus areas
  • Take the first step to join the IDP
  • Propose use cases that can be addressed through the IDP

To attend one of the workshops (each one focuses on a distinct group), click on the links below.