Iowa digs for data gold
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Mar 04, 2001
Iowa hopes to create a data warehousing system that the judicial, legislative
and executive branches could mine for information to help them make better
The initiative started more than a year ago when three agencies — the
Department of Revenue and Finance, the Division of Criminal and Juvenile
Justice Planning and the Department of Human Services — sent out requests
for proposals for a data-warehousing platform.
Instead of three separate contracts, Iowa chief information officer
Richard Varn's staff persuaded the agencies to agree on a single platform.
Since then, about 30 other agencies — including the Corrections, Natural
Resources, Public Safety and Health departments — have either provided selected
databases or will participate, project manager Linda Plazak said.
Data warehouses contain enormous amounts of information and are used
to quickly set up elaborate queries and searches.
Iowa is using a scalable NCR Corp. platform with relational database
software installed by Bull Worldwide Information Systems. Hardware, training,
professional services and other costs total about $2.3 million.
Plazak said each agency is responsible for hiring a vendor to model
its database. Starting from scratch, it cost the justice department $400,000
to $500,000. But the costs drop for other agencies because all they have
to do is replicate the initial model. The corrections department, for example,
spent about $70,000.
Iowa's initiative is unique because it involves agencies from all three
branches of government. In state government, agencies usually set up their
own data warehouses.