Friday, March 02, 2007

Information sharing is not information monopoly

I think Thomas Beck is unnecessarily concerned.

Information Monopolies – Several states have internal brokering setups in place. These information brokerages are found most frequently in the areas of law and justice, financial transactions, and health information. I believe these areas represent the first of several information monopolies. These monopolies were driven by federal data exchange efforts in homeland security and bioterrorism and, in the case of financial data exchanges, system consolidations on common ERP platforms. Expect to see more of these natural information monopolies in the near future with efforts such as Real ID, the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), Medicaid spend management, and the National Provider Identifier (NPI) taking hold. As these monopolies take shape, certain organizations within state government will be the logical choice as keepers of this data. These keepers should be building their systems in a service-oriented fashion to facilitate easy exchange of information amongst all systems requiring access to this data.

Let me confine myself to NIEM, which I know something about. NIEM is not a huge honking data base. NIEM is a framework for sharing information. It permits law enforcement from one jurisdiction to access information from another jurisdiction. It is not a done deal, it is still being built. I encourage all interested parties to follow developments and communicate their concerns. The individuals running this project are not empire builders, but dedicated civil servants, and are eager to protect privacy and the fourth amendment.


Barbarossa said...

Thanks for the comment on my post. It is clear to me now that I should have though more about how people would interpret my intent when I wrote this. I view NIEM as a very good thing; perhaps the most progressive things to happen to state government since I've been involved with it. When I used the term information monopoly, my intent was to convey the positive aspects attributable to the consolidation of logical points of access to data.

I did not intend the term information monopoly to be interpreted in the "government is trying to be big brother" sense. Rather, if state governments had a consolidated (logical or physical) source of data on citizen identities, employer history, or arrest records; they would be able to operate more efficiently than they do in an environment of data islands. From a service orientation standpoint, which was what my post was actually about, this would make it a lot easier to build and integrate systems and would increase the credibility and reliability of the data that comes out of these systems.

So... I'm with you on this one. NIEM is a framework for exchanging data, not a database. Logically speaking, however, if states choose to have a single point of entry governing their statewide and national NIEM data exchanges, than they have granted this entity a quasi-monopoly over this logical collection of data. From my vantage point as a system integrator, this is a good thing since I can then go to one source for all of my NIEM-related data.

I hope this clarifies things a bit.

Thomas Beck

Alice said...

It clarifies it a good deal, but I still think you are confusing data collection with search.