Spreading the Word on the Impact of Interoperability and Open Data: Our Latest Symposium Focused Sharply on Improving Children’s Lives

Over the past decade, the steadily escalating use of open data has expanded knowledge, driven innovation, enhanced effectiveness and improved outcomes in a growing number of realms, particularly relating to health, healthcare and human services. Stewards of Change Institute, seeing the opportunity (and the need) to expand this work even further, recently held an event in Southern California – our latest regional HHS Open DataFest– specifically targeted toward improving the lives of our nation’s children.

The intent of this first-of-its kind symposium was to bring together disciplines that too-seldom converge: mental and behavioral health, adverse childhood experiences, social services and early childhood development. The result was a highly interactive, stimulating and productive day for about 100 participants who left agreeing that they have much to continue sharing with each other – and pledging to find new/additional ways to work together.

“Open data has served as a low-risk, low-cost portal to exploring our internal data usage and thinking more innovatively about improving our services for Californians,” said Michael Wilkening, Undersecretary of California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA), a speaker at the event. “Through these efforts, we have increased collaboration, internally and externally. I look forward to building on these successes.”

The DataFest was hosted by Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI) in partnership with First5LA, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, the California Health Care Foundation, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, CHHSA and MarkLogic. It was held at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, University of Southern California, on Jan. 24, 2017.

What made the symposium so exciting, in addition to bringing together so many important players in the fields of child welfare, education and well-being, was that we were able to focus on concrete tools, knowledge, approaches and best practices for positively impacting the lives of girls, boys and youth in California, as well as across our country. DataFest participants were highly engaged throughout the program’s interactive sessions, and I’m happy to report that many said they came away with actionable new ideas and relationships for moving forward.

A short video trailer is posted to SOCI’s YouTube channel to provide more detail on the vision and goals of the Regional DataFest. You can also take a look at the agenda, speakers, slide presentations and graphic murals (along with other resources) on the Open DataFest landing page. There, you’ll also find a form for sharing your contact information so that you can get involved in future data-sharing initiatives and events.

SOCI is proud of its long history of initiatives across the U.S., and particularly in California, where we’ve had the opportunity to host several symposia and have played a key role in building the state’s Open Data Portal. We’re especially grateful for the commitment that CHHSA has shown to our partnership and to the use of data to enhance the lives of the state’s residents and communities.

For more information on SOCI’s work, please take a look at our website, www.stewardsofchange.com, or contact me at daniel@stewardsofchange.com. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you for the sake of children, families and communities – wherever you may live!

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