Strategic Pillar 4: Leverage Our Data and Experience To Influence Policy and Public Systems

By Robert Phillips

At Social Interest Solutions, our future is in data. Data can and will drive how we operate and implement our solutions development, and change the lives of people for the better.

Distilling data down to its component parts will become a source of strength for SIS. Understanding the data, sharing the data – but more importantly doing something with the data – will drive us forward. We will challenge ourselves to understand the value that data provides in developing solutions and changing policy.

Fact-based Storytelling Will Align Efforts

Strategic Pillar 4: Leverage Our Data and Experience To Influence Policy and Public SystemsI’ve talked about the importance of data analytics and using data to learn all we can about people who use our solutions, the folks they help, and how well our solutions are working for them. I believe making sense of the data is equally important: finding the trends and patterns in the data, building a narrative, then communicating the stories we are seeing in the data far and wide to raise awareness and spur action. Said another way: data is not the target, data is not the answer, data is not the insight. Rather, data is the enabler for SIS’s real goal: insight that is communicated to the right person at the right time in the right way to create lasting impact.

How we will use data going forward will distinguish SIS in many ways; below are only a few examples.

  1. I want the stories we are telling to extract value from our data in the form of insight. There is a major push today to do data mining, correlation analysis, machine learning, recommendation engines, and anything else to solve the problem of gaining insight and understanding relationships between the data elements that will inform and transform business practices. However, it does not stop there. For example, our work with Arizona has created data based on 8 million encounters. I want to work with the State of Arizona to use this data to help us get better, refine our solutions, and inform our decisions, as well as benefit the state and the families or individuals at the end of that continuum. That is the theme: using data to construct a critical path for ourselves and for others. The result of these approaches still requires interpretation, for which SIS is well positioned given our decades of experience.
  2. I want data to showcase the ability for our solutions to create security and self-reliance. Our interpretation of data will rely on a frame that doesn’t focus on people’s needs, but rather on what people can contribute once we all feel secure about our ability to connect to work, housing, food, and child care, and to maintain our dignity. We will change hearts and minds through insights that highlight the positive aspects of what it means to people everywhere to be connected to opportunity, security, and time in their communities.
  3. I want to use data to highlight SIS as an innovator in the social tech space. Our data is already widely referenced by advocates and experts in policy and government. I want to challenge us to distill rich big-data sets that we have on behalf of our clients and turn those numbers, equations, and columns into trends that people can understand. These positive, data-driven stories will enlighten and animate our partners and our competitors, as well as create alignment among our clients about where to find solutions to people’s challenges. Put simply, I want us to use data to help us tell the story of SIS and our long-standing work in the social tech space.

Together, we, our partners, and our users will develop a critical path that can be followed to our broader vision. It is important that we contribute a shared understanding to others in this field, because we cannot be alone on addressing people’s challenges; they are too large and too complex. This is key, and goes back to our commitment to cultivating partnerships with others from Pillar 3.

The Future of Data Portability

An example that makes this clear is SIS’s current exploration of using blockchain or crypto technology as a safe, easy, and secure way to support people’s autonomy over their identity information. The problem we want to address is that when folks ask for help, they typically have to mail, fax, or bring in person the same personal documents repeatedly to various agencies because government systems have been slow to develop ways to easily maintain, secure, and verify this data. This is inconvenient, and places undue burden on the people asking for help. We believe that blockchain will support people’s ability to control their personal information such as a birth certificate, marriage license, driver’s license, medical insurance card, work visa, or income tax return, and securely share this information with only those who need it, when they need it, and only once. The goal is to use this technology to enable people to apply for multiple programs with less hassle while maintaining the privacy and security of their personal information. As we pursue this idea, we will look for insight in the data to confirm the effectiveness of blockchain for significant social purposes like this.

Also worth emphasizing is that as we look for solutions, we are not just seeing nails for our hammers. That is, we shouldn’t use technology just because it’s cool, or seek to change policy because we think it is inherently wrong. Rather, we see these as options in our toolkit to have a positive impact. Then as we work toward solutions, we can use data to refine our solutions, and inform our decisions, in tandem with the policy and public systems that need adjusting to align with the solutions.

Challenging Our Assumptions and Changing How We Work

To craft the stories that we can to improve our solutions, we will focus in a way that challenges our assumptions. We will curate our data so that we can focus on a few, powerful points rather than be distracted by information overload. Using human-focused narratives and insight-driven storytelling to bring data to life in an easily digestible way, SIS will use data to bridge the gap between insights and action by creating a pervasive data-driven decisionmaking culture.

Such analytical storytelling enables SIS to shift from being instinct-driven to insight-driven in our decisions. By constantly using the information, we are able to push ourselves to do better, to think ahead, and create change faster. We will look back to push forward. And by pushing ourselves, we will push the policy and public systems to achieve more. This will force us to think differently.

SIS is using data to gain insights, whether about technology or policy or systems, that will help us move further faster toward our larger purpose: to create connections between people and the lives they dream of. By being data driven, we will achieve deeper connections with our users, improved work processes, more expansive partnerships, and ultimately better products to help even more people.

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One thought on “Strategic Pillar 4: Leverage Our Data and Experience To Influence Policy and Public Systems

  1. Gopi Jayakumar says:

    Well said about the data and how we can leverage it! The idea of exploring different technology like blockchain or crypto is good!

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