The Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust: Putting the Last Word First

With less than two weeks to go before the National Interoperability Collaborative’s first major event – “A Symposium in the NIC of Time: Advancing Information-Sharing in California and Beyond” – we’ve been giving considerable thought to how best to present our work at the Silicon Valley Data Trust (SVRDT) to the symposium’s attendees.

The fact that this event is about interoperability and information-sharing is crystal clear from its title. So the primary focus of our presentation will obviously be related to the technologies SVRDT is using to successfully exchange data across multiple domains and across three California counties. Right?

Actually, while we certainly will discuss the replicable how-to, information-sharing aspects of our project, they won’t be the points we most want symposium attendees to take home with them. Here’s why: The Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust is built on a foundation of trust; indeed, the last word in its name is first in importance.

With the ubiquity of data available today, people and organizations naturally feel vulnerable to their potential misappropriation and misuse. They feel that way about data relating to themselves, their organizations, and those data for which they are responsible. Consequently, to build and operate a multi-county, interagency data system, the SVRDT has focused on building the trust of its partners and among them. The people and organizations we’ve been able to connect with this approach include: public schools; health and human service agencies; juvenile justice; case-management practitioners; public policy and government executives; and researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Since its inception in 2013, SVRDT has been developing trust through two interwoven strands to sustain and strengthen confidence in the operation of the system we’ve been building. First, SVRDT builds trust through face-to-face interactions, where partners identify aspirations, challenges, and opportunities. This has resulted in a shared commitment to using data to serve children and families in the region.

Second, SVRDT is institutionalizing trust by developing a Secure Information Sharing Environment that is based upon an integrated policy, architecture and technology framework. The policy layer codifies the legal and regulatory compliance requirements; the architecture layer ensures consistent information-sharing and safeguarding through policy-compliant design; and, the technology layer enables policy-compliant information-sharing services for SVRDT partners.

Implementation of the SVRDT system – which already has begun – will also provide additional policy and practice assurance through a process-change integration methodology, which establishes professional and organizational capacity and accountability for the effective and ethical use of data. This approach will build the interpersonal and institutionalized trust required to sustain the operation of its cross-county, interagency information-sharing environment by assuring the appropriate use of agency data; that is, as a public resource, for the public good.

It is worth noting that a distinguishing characteristic of our project is that it includes something from the get-go that many initiatives come to only later in their development; that is, the exchange of personally identifiable information to enable better care coordination and case management. The result is that the SVRDT model will support the use of data for policy, research and case management purposes from the start.

We’re looking forward to providing a more-detailed explanation of SVRDT’s work – along with a demonstration of how it functions – at NIC’s invitation-only symposium, which will take place in Sacramento on March 26-27. The event is being underwritten by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and is being cosponsored by NIC’s organizational leaders, Stewards of Change Institute and AcademyHealth, along with the California Health and Human Services and SVRDT.

For more information about the symposium, keep an eye on We look forward to sharing our experience and  knowledge as the event unfolds, and afterwards through the new NIC Website and Collaboration Portal.

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