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201103 NT Spatial 2011_Paper_T Gill_Data Quality and its Role in Decision Making

201103 NT Spatial 2011_Paper_T Gill_Data Quality and its Role in Decision Making

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Published by NT Spatial
Presentation from NT Spatial 2011: The State of Play
Presentation from NT Spatial 2011: The State of Play

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Published by: NT Spatial on Feb 17, 2011
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11/16/2012

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DATA QUALITY AND ITS ROLE IN DECISION MAKING
 
TONY GILL
GradCertPubSecMgmt, GAICD
 
Department of Lands and PlanningGPO Box 1680, Darwin NT 0801Tel: +61 8 8995 5317Email: tony.gill@nt.gov.au
 
Abstract
As more organisations, government and non-government, embrace spatial information and technologies, greater attention needs to be placed on the role and importance of authoritative data sources. The NT Government’s Spatially Enabling Government (SEG) initiative will further drive the discussion within Government.However, awareness and the significance of the issue must be brought into the public domain.This paper highlights the need for greater focus on the role of authoritative spatial datasets in decision making by government, industry and the public and argues the need for data custodians of authoritative spatial data sources to place greater attention on transparent quality assurance practices. Questions posed by this paper and their implications include; what is the role of quality assurance in the creation and maintenance of spatial data, should we be demanding it of spatial data suppliers, what value will it add and what are the risks in not achieving quality assurance certification? With the emergence of a range of alternative spatial data sources, the case for a dataset certification regime is put forward as a mechanism whereby custodians of authoritative spatial data sources can stand out in the growing information market place.
Spatially Enabling Government
Spatially Enabling Government (SEG) is a Cabinet endorsed initiative of the NTGovernment with the objective of providing a whole-of-government (or asequated by Althaus, C & Tiernan (2005) as joined-up-government) approach forthe enhancement of Government services through the provision of underlyingspatial information and associated services.SEG includes a range of activities, not all fully funded, including;
Establishing location and street addressing services
Improved coverage, currency and quality of imagery and mapping
Provision of satellite-based positioning infrastructure and facilities
Assistance to agencies to spatially enable their information and businessoperations, and
Provision of a governance framework for the realisation of SEG benefits 1
 
The vision of SEG is to generate significant opportunities to deliver integratedservices to the community, but to also become an enabling component ofJoined-up Government.The NTG’s ICT Strategic Intent 2010-15 document (NTG, 2009) highlighted thesignificance of information in the decision making process when it stated“Decisions are based on information and knowledge” and as a consequence“information must be easy to access securely, accurate, reliable, timely andusable”.  Without achieving these attributes, there is a risk in policy andoperational decisions being made that are not only flawed and costly, but couldput lives at risk.Government, industry and the community are in a spatially or location enablingphase. There is recognition that everything happens somewhere and as TonyMaber (MDS, 2011) states “Organisations not using the location element ofretained or acquired business information are missing out on a valuableingredient when making decisions”.Maber claims “A picture paints a thousand words, but a map tells the wholestory!” (MDS, 2011). However, explorer Captain James Cook, found time andagain that maps of his time were created based on myth, misinformation or justplain poor information rather than fact or carefully observed measurement (FilmAustralia, 2007). Without Captain Cook correcting the maps of the day manydecisions of the time may have had disastrous consequences for mariners andbusiness men.In a whole-of-government approach, solving complex issues like Closing TheGap of indigenous disadvantage require sound sources of information that spanagencies and levels of government. Key to this is ensuring we start from asound base of good quality authoritative information.
Origins of quality and its links to spatial information
Dr. Joseph M. Juran’s book, Managerial Breakthrough in 1964 led to qualitymanagement and improvement systems like Lean and Six Sigma (Juran, 2011).The American Society for Quality (ASQ) was formed in 1946 as the AmericanSociety for Quality Control and now self-describes itself as the “champion of thequality movement” (ASQ, 2011), of which Juran was made an HonoraryMember in 1968.While ISO 9000 has its roots from British standards (Wikipedia, 2011b), in theearly 1980’s in the USA, Government and industry, saw the need to focus onquality as part of doing business in an expanding competitive globalmarketplace (NIST, 2010) and enacted legislation, The Malcolm BaldrigeNational Quality Improvement Act of 1987 that established the Malcolm BaldrigeNational Quality Award “to promote awareness of performance excellence as animportant element in competitiveness … that would help U.S. companiesachieve worldclass quality” (NIST, 2010). In 2001, the U.S. National Institute ofStandards and Technology (NIST) commissioned an evaluation of the netbenefits of the Baldrige Program and extrapolated entire economy benefits ofUSD $24.65 billion (year 2000 present value) based on USD $2.17 billion (year2000 present value) for members of the ASQ (NIST, 2001). The evaluation has 2
 
demonstrated linkages between the implementation of quality initiatives to theorganisation and the nation.The ISO 19000 series of standards for Geographic Information contains a rangeof standards that relate directly to the field of spatial data quality. This includes,among others, ISO 19113:2004 (Quality Principles), ISO 19114:2005 (QualityEvaluation Procedures), ISO 19138:2008 (Data Quality Measures), ISO19115:2005 (Metadata). This represents a relatively comprehensive set ofstandards for the management of spatial information and the recording andmeasurement of its quality at the dataset/product level.The draft ISO 19158 (Quality Assurance of Data Supply) standard is currentlybeing worked on and is expected to be published in April/May 2011 (Body,2011). It recognises the role of ISO 9000:2005 as establishing the principles ofquality management and other ISO 19000 series standards for the data qualityreporting and evaluation.The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is a consensus-based organisation ofindustry, government agencies and universities with the aim of developinginterface standards to support interoperable vendor independent geo-enabledsolutions (OGC, 2011). OGC have recognised the need to ensure that theseinteroperable systems are capable of exchanging information on data qualityand have formed a Data Quality Working Group (OGC, 2011b).
What defines quality?
The Government of British Columbia defines data quality as being “The state ofcompleteness, validity, consistency, timeliness and accuracy that makes dataappropriate for a specific use” (Wikipedia 2011) and aligns well with the NTGICT Strategic Intent.The standard on Geographic Information – Quality Principles (AS/NZS ISO19113:2004) raised a key issue that challenges the specific use qualifier, whenit acknowledges the increasing tendency for geographic datasets to be “shared,integrated and used for purposes other than their producer’s intended ones”.As such, quality becomes a subjective assessment by the consumer of the dataas to its fitness for use for a particular purpose that may be outside the originalintended use of the data by the producer.
The significance of Authoritativeness in quality
Authoritative is defined as “arising or originating from a figure of authority” or“highly accurate or definitive” (Wikitionary, 2011) and authoritativeness isdefined as “the quality of possessing authority” or “the quality of trustworthinessand reliability” (Wikitionary, 2011b).All of these descriptors could easily be applied to cadastral datasets producedand overseen by the respective Surveyors-General in each State and Territoryjurisdiction of Australia. This comes to being because of the Torrens TitleSystem whereby the Government, through the Registrars-General andSurveyors-General guarantee indefeasibility of title. This provides a high level ofconfidence to the public, financial institutions and industry in the accuracy and 3

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