NIC’s California Symposium: Cross-Sector Collegiality, Lots of Learning, and 140 Thank-Yous

The National Interoperability Collaborative’s first major event, “A Symposium in the NIC of Time: Information-Sharing across California and Beyond,” took place March 26-27 in West Sacramento.

When we started planning the event several months ago, we set two primary goals. First, we wanted to put together a convening that would be interactive and genuinely informative to 140 cross-disciplinary participants who are passionate about the role of interoperability and information-sharing to improve people’s health and well-being. And we wanted to simultaneously further our second, equally important objective: to engage with stakeholders about what NIC – which was launched just 10 months ago – can do to meet their needs, while scaling its multi-sector work faster and spreading its benefits more widely.

Based on the feedback and signups we’ve already received, NIC is off to a solid start as a “Community of Networks,” with broad support in numerous ways, including several new Sponsors and Partners as well as a fast-growing list of organizational Members.

There were lots of takeaways and next steps from the symposium, which we will continue to work on and share through future communications. For now, here are a few headlines:

  • Similar concerns are being encountered by professionals across all six domains in which NIC is working (human and social services, public health, public education, public safety, emergency medical services, and health information technology). Those range from data-sharing and -integration challenges, to contracting and management issues for building systems, to smoothing the path for privacy and confidentiality agreements.
  • There is a “let’s finally get this done” spirit among the people and organizations dealing with all these issues, challenges, and concerns because they also have more-effective means to surmount hurdles and seize opportunities – across domains, working collaboratively – than at any time in the past.
  • There is a pressing need to agree on data and communications standards, as well as to establish core structured data sets, so information is easier to share within and across organizations, agencies, and domains. And there is a clear recognition that the information not only should be easier to exchange, but also needs to be genuinely secure and useful to the end-users.
  • There is a need to promote equity and cultural respect, as well as to address implicit and explicit institutional and research-based biases. We will be forming a workgroup to identify ways NIC can help accomplish those objectives within and across domains.
  • There is a hunger for these types of cross-domain, cross-sector conversations, as well as interest in learning from others’ experiences in the field. Participants want to be able to share practical tips, tools, and tricks about what works and what doesn’t, from promising practices to “crash and burn” experiences;  that don’t succeed. We commit to including this hands-on learning in our next NIC symposium (probably in the fall).
  • And there’s much more – so please stay tuned . . .

On behalf of NIC’s leadership team, Stewards of Change Institute and AcademyHealth, we sincerely thank everyone who made the symposium possible – and contributed to its success. Those include the event’s Underwriter, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; our two co-sponsors, the California Health and Human Services Agency and the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust; the organization that provided generous seed funding to start NIC, the Kresge Foundation; and our additional inaugural Sponsors: IBM, Microsoft, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Most of all, we extend our deep gratitude to all 140 participants who shared their time, their expertise, and their insights during two highly productive days in California.

California is already the home of many innovative initiatives and projects working on information-sharing and interoperability, so we are forming NIC’s first “chapter” there to help accelerate cross-sector collaboration and learnings in the state. At the same time, we will work with our  partners throughout the U.S. to build the NIC Community of Networks in their geographical locations and nationally, all with the ultimate objective of improving outcomes – and lives.

Thank you for joining us on this important journey.

Please visit our new website,, to learn more.  We’ll be posting symposium materials there shortly. You can also join the Collaborative on the site and/or contact us at if you want to become a Member, Partner, or Sponsor. 

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