Skrinja (Chest): Using Emerging Technologies for Better Digital Public Services and Data Driven Decision Making in Slovenia

The innovation has been developed to support data-driven decisions and to improve transparency and efficiency for better governance. Manual analytic work can be better organised and automated by offering self-serving dashboards and infographics. Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence are used as a central governmental platform to be offered as a service to the public sector. The project is introducing new concepts and tools of analytics and business intelligence in the public administration for better services.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

In 2017, the pilot project “Big Data Analysis for HR efficiency improvement” led to the establishment of a central data warehouse and business intelligence called “Chest”, which had the aim of supporting data-driven decision making to improve transparency and efficiency for better governance. The BI “Chest” concept follows GDPR requirements and Information Commissioner directions regarding personal data security. The first data source which is being imported to the Business Intelligence system is the Slovenian public salary system (called ISPAP) which comprises the whole salary system in the Slovenian public sector. The second data source which is being prepared to be imported to the Business Intelligence system is the system of public procurement data.

According to the team's experiences, some of the key aspects of Business Intelligence implementation are change management and support of top management. Business Intelligence brings new possibilities, different ways of thinking and eliminates some of the old patterns in the working process. Since proper data interpretation is of utmost importance, the collaboration of expert users & data owners is very crucial for the success of the Business Intelligence implementation. Therefore IT experts work closely with content experts, speak the same language, share the same ideas and follow common goals when implementing a Business Intelligence system.

Business Intelligence as a digital platform enables multiple collecting, linking and analysing different databases, seeking different patterns, finding new knowledge and information from various aspects in real-time reporting processes. It provides new data dimensions, patterns, combinations and possibilities to create new information and their visualisations which isolated databases cannot provide. Moreover, it saves time and money by supplementing different repetitive reporting using Excel. The majority of this manual work could be predefined and automated by offering self-serving dashboards and infographics. Consequently, analysts could rather focus on smarter tasks e.g. on predictive analytics, ad-hoc reports, "what if" future scenarios and proper data interpretation to offer a good basis for better planning. On the other hand, Business Intelligence provides a solid system operating as “one truth”, meaning that reporting is done automatically using original data sources, which prevents errors in reporting.

The Business Intelligence system as a central digital governmental platform is intended to be offered as a service to other governmental agencies. It will enable solid, quality information for governmental users aiming to support better decisions both on an operational, tactical and strategic level. Data owners will decide to what extent their Business Intelligence results will be provided to public, but all such inputs will increase transparency and provide additional data for reuse. The team intends to also design a competence centre offering professional support and knowledge dissemination to public administration users. The focus has been given to data security and protection according to GDPR together with national personal data legislation. Therefore, the data warehouse is comprised of separated data marts for each source, each accessible by required authorization and authentication process. Data marts can only store pseudonymised personal data and process of pseudonymisation must be done before loading data to data mart (privacy by design).

Data warehouses and Business Intelligence are not a novelty in business and industry, but to date, they have not been used extensively in governments. Especially in the form of a general platform and as a horizontal service. This is a different environment and many issues like data structure requirements, safety, privacy, and authorizations had to be specifically addressed to provide trustworthy procedures and technology on many different government data sources.

The Chest is providing a powerful tool for government institutions enabling them to better and faster analyse their data. Results can be used in decision making and provide a trustworthy and transparent source given to the public and business for reuse. By simplifying technical hurdles and shortening development procedures, more innovative reports and graphical representations can be prepared, thus giving previously hardly accessible information to the public and business. For example:
- Transparent information about salaries in the public sector can dissolve many doubts about government efficiency.
- Public procurement data can be used by business to better prepare their offers for public tenders and providing a good source for market analysis.
We can expect that integrating other data sources on the Chest platform will provide even more useful information, not just for government officials but for the public and industry too.

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