In the United States, the railroads began as a free-for-all. Once the railway technology was tried and tested in Europe, the game was on. It seemed like everybody who has money or anybody who can organize people with money to pool their money together started building their own railroad. Sounds awesome, right? After all, a railroad would enable people who live in one part of the country to produce goods to be consumed at another part of the country. This enabled a lot of people to make money. A lot of entrepreneurs and businesses springing up, of course, mean more jobs. More jobs mean more government revenue, which means more government infrastructure. More jobs also mean larger markets so this means more private businesses and private services. Like I said what's not to love? However, here's the problem. There is so much economic activity as far as the railroads were concerned that everybody was basically just jumping in with both feet.
They didn’t bother to check that the width of the railroad as well as different important details regarding the train were not cross-compatible. There are certain railways that do not hook up with other railways because you’d have to change tracks. You’d have to run a different kind of train.
Instead of one unified railway that enabled a train to go from point A to point B quickly, smoothly and with as little drama as possible, the train would have to stop and people had to get off or cars need to be readjusted so they can go on to another network, and then once that networks stops, they have to do the same thing. This was costly. It took a lot of time and, in many cases, it really invalidated the whole idea of moving goods and resources of on rails.
Well, somebody got the brilliant idea of making sure that all the tracks as well as all the train specifications must be unified. Anybody who wanted to participate in the rail economy has to live up to these standards. What happened? An explosion in rail building and an explosion in wealth. That’s what happened.
Standardization is crucial for any kind of progress especially if you’re dealing with a massive amount of scale.
This is especially crucial when it comes to data and information. Government absorbs, creates and channels a tremendous amount of information. It all starts at the grassroots level, and for this to work, we have to learn from the painful experience of the early railway expansion in the United States.
Standardization is key; otherwise, there will be serious structural bottlenecks that would hold back the whole system from producing the range of benefits that it’s otherwise capable of producing. That is what is at stake as far as data infrastructure is concerned.
We all need to speak up about this. This is not a small thing. This is definitely not some sort of intellectual curiosity. This is not a theory. This can have life-and-death consequences especially if solutions are actually already being implemented in many parts of the country but due to bad data sharing and bad form channels, people aren’t being benefited.
Standardization is crucial for manufacturing. It’s crucial for communications. It’s definitely crucial for government information.
Standardization is Crucial to Government Information
In the United States, the railroads began as a free-for-all. Once the railway technology was tried and tested in Europe, the game was on. It seemed like everybody who has money or anybody who can organize people with money to pool their money together started building their own railroad. Sounds awesome, right?Read More
Government Technology Cannot Scale Without Data Standardization
Data standardization really means using the same forms. That's all it means. Basically, data has variables. It comes in many forms. This data often comes within a range of forms. Now, what are you going to do with that data? You’re going to have to plug it into a specific structure that doesn't change.Read More
Data Format is just as Important as the Data It Holds
Regardless of which government program you are involved with and regardless of what level of government you work at, please understand that data format is crucial for any kind of organization. Organizations live or die based on how well they process information. Information is needed for organizations to do stuff, to plan ahead, to measure resultsRead More
All Government Data Forms are not Created Equal