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practice Government Information System of Veneto Region

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Government Information System of Veneto Region

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Acronym of the case:

SìGOVe

Country of the case:

Italy

City/region:

Veneto

Posting Date:

2 October 2009

Last Edited Date:

02 October 2009

Author:

Lorenzo Mengotti (Regione Veneto - Direzione Sistema Statistico Regionale)
Government Information System of Veneto Region Logolorenzo38's picture
Award finalist 2009

Type of initiative

  • Project or service-imgProject or service
  • Strategic initiative-imgStrategic initiative

Case Abstract

In 2005 the "Direzione Sistema Statistico Regionale" (DSSR in the remaining of the document) - the regional statistical department of Veneto, according to local  regulations (L.R. 8/2002) and the information needs, started the SìGOVe (Sistema Informativo di Governo della Regione Veneto) project to better support the regional governance.

SìGOVe is aimed to support politicians, public sector managers and others local institutions in their daily work supplying certified information in a timely and efficient way (see attachment "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 7).

SìGOVe is a statistical information system storing all the information related to regional requirements (economy, demography, agriculture, ...).

After identifying the overall contents structures (chapters, areas, sections, ...) DSSR chose a modular approach and started to implement the first areas of the system to evaluate the SìGOVe potential. Then, year after year, many other modules have been deployed; today the system is made up of 32 different areas (for the main SìGOVe topics see attachment "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 8).

For each module the project team identifies the data sources based on key users' requirements. Once identified the data sources, the data model is designed and the data collection phase starts in order to transform raw-data into consistent and homogenous information. Finally the team implements analysis scenario supported by reports and dashboards (i.e. measures and indicators).

The project is in production since march 2006 and allows the users to get, in an easily and timely manner, useful guidelines and hints to drive their analysis and decision making processes.

The solution addresses the needs of the "business users" with (see attachment "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 7)

  • free context and sectors analysis
  • a set of predefined reports in order to produce printed publications (see attachment "05_DSSR_SìGOVe_Reporting_areas_v02.pdf")
  • summary high-level dashboards with value-added data to monitor the main social and economic regional indicators (see attachment "03_DSSR_SìGOVE_dashboard_social_economic_analisys 5.0.pdf")
  • vertical interactive dashboards, i.e. international trade, focused on analyzing a single phenomenon (see attachment "04_DSSR_SìGOVE_dynamic_information_international_trade_2.0.pdf")

Lesson learnt

  • Once the data gathering process has been automated the time to get the data ready for analysis is drastically reduced (from weeks to hours) and the time spent by the analysts to "prepare" data is greatly reduced
  • Business users can spend most of their time on the analysis and decision-making process
  • The "unique" vision of the Veneto situation let actors discover new opportunities and trends, allowing them to create new form of collaboration

Key Points

  • A unique data warehouse environment with administrative data (internal sources) and public information (external sources)
  • A data gathering process based on multiple heterogeneous sources (i.e. flat file, relational entities)
  • A metadata infrastructure to support technical needs and business users
  • A complete stack of business intelligence functionalities covered by a new BI suite: enterprise reporting, query and analysis, ad hoc reporting, dashboard.

Description of the case

Start date - End date
September 2005 (Ongoing)
Date operational
March 2006
Target Users
Administrative | Business (industry) | Citizen
Target Users Description

The SìGOVe project addresses the general need to have certified information to increase knowledge on the regional phenomena and to support the decision-making process.

The target groups of users are potentially all the actors of the Veneto society (see attachment "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 7).

At least 6 user groups have been identified

  • statistical analysts from DSSR (25 users)
  • statistical users belonging to other regional departments (60 users)
  • managers of the public sector
  • users belonging to other public sector institutions not belonging to Regione Veneto
  • citizens
  • private sector users (companies)

In general, all the users require an easy way to get access to up-to-date information with a common semantic layer (the concept "geography" for example must be the same for all the users). SìGOVe contains all the necessary information directly comparable even if coming from different data sources in different format and in different period.

Each user must have access only to the "portion of data" of his interest/responsibility as the access to SìGOVe is limited only to authorized users.

Inside DSSR users are organized in groups: each group is focused on one sector with a vertical vision (i.e. demography vs economy). Other users are focused in creating a cross-functional strategic vision, covering different areas and indicators.

To support the different users, the system provides different functionalities (see attachment "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 7):

  • DSSR analysts can built their own analysis scenario and ad hoc queries, share and publish their "results", built the metadata framework, ...
  • Regional analysts can use reports and dashboards published by DSSR analysts or modify predefined reports
  • Managers of regional departments can consult dashboards or predefined reports to support their planning and monitoring activities
  • Users belonging to other public sector institutions, citizens and private sector users request and receive data and reports
Scope
Local (city or municipality) | Regional (sub-national)
Status
Operation
Language(s)
Italian

Policy Context and Legal Framework

At the end of XX century the role of regional government institutions is becoming more and more important and challenging to support the society.  The regional government started to ask information in order to achieve economic growth and address the demand of the society (citizens, companies, public institutions).
This "new" role required the abilities to have certified information to support the local government initiatives.
The main objectives of the local  regulations (L.R. 8/2002), at the basis of SìGOVe, is to manage the activities performed by actors belonging to regional public sector, related to find data sources, organize data, analyze and archive information and deliver statistical information. The aim is to guarantee consistency and data integrity, to rationalize data flows, in order to support the national statistic system (SISTAN).

On this basis, DSSR of Veneto accepted the challenge and started, in 2005, the SìGOVe project to reorganize its information system architecture in order to get more power from raw data.

DSSR acquired data from ISTAT and other national statistical institutions that contribute to the definition of "Programma Statistico Nazionale" (national statistical program) and then it extended the European data sources such as Eurostat and other institutes focusing on regional benchmarking.

To understand how SìGOVe fits in the regional statistics system see attachment "01_DSSR_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf".

The new regulation and the changing framework required attention on some key elements:

  • data must be taken once, centrally stored and the data quality must be known: the evaluation process must be able to be repeated without changes in results and the uncertainty must be a known parameter
  • data coming from different and not integrated data sources, with no common keys, must be put together in order to have a clear and complete picture of the analyzed subjects (i.e. demographic indicators)
  • data belonging to different topics has to be organized to create an high-level synthetically view of the analyzed phenomena (i.e. tourism, foreign citizens, regional/subregional GDP)
  • a new standard de-facto architecture must be adopted towards a technology consolidation and rationalization of the investments done (in order to replace multiple database engine - Oracle 8, Oracle 9, Oracle Express, SAS, MySQL - and multiple presentation tool - SAS, Oracle Express, custom web application)
  • periodic update processes must take place in a short time frame and in a more efficient way
  • presentation layer must be easier and more flexible to use
  • service levels, both internal and external, must be defined, measured and guaranteed

We add some information about Veneto. Veneto is an Italian region with

  • 7 provinces
  • 581 municipalities
  • 4,8 million of inhabitants
  • Surface are of 18 399 km2 and a density of 259 inhabitants for km2
  • 2724 staff members in the Veneto regional public sector

Project Size and Implementation

Type of initiative
Awareness-raising information
Overall Implementation approach
Public administration
Technology choice
Standards-based technology
Funding source
Public funding regional
Project size
Implementation: €1,000,000-5,000,000
Yearly cost:
€300-499,000

Implementation and Management Approach

To guarantee the success of the SìGOVe implementation we choose a technology partner - HP Business Intelligence Solutions (HP BIS) in order to address the complexity of the architectural and technical layer.

The success gained was reached merging

  • HP business intelligence and project management skills
  • DSSR users deep knowledge on statistical analysis, territory, information topics and data sources content
  • IT technical and project management skills of the IT department of the Veneto Region.

The steering committee is constituted by the partner program manager (HP), the IT manager (Veneto Region) and the manager of the statistical department (DSSR Veneto Region). With such a mix all the necessary actions to drive and keep on track the project are in place, allowing to manage all the changes to adapt the initial plan to the actual context and issues.

The operational team is constantly aligned (monthly meetings) with the steering committee strategic vision.

The operational team is made up of

  • functional and technical users (DSSR)
  • a project manager and technical resources (HP)
  • technical users (IT department).

It is important to emphasize the how DSSR approach the information management process.

The core activity in the process of data organization lays in the correct application of statistical methodologies in all the steps of the process. These methodologies are applied in

  • the analysis and definition of the indicators and in understanding the relations between indicators;
  • the phase of defining standard rules for indicator calculations; chosen indicators are meaningful to represent the different phenomena;
  • data validation and data quality check processes, starting from initial data loading till the validation of synthetic indicators;
  • metadata definition and management as metadata is fundamental in information organization and allow correct data utilization (i.e. source, data reference, ...).

At the beginning we identified the whole content of the system; then we started with a modular approach, focusing on two areas (10-years thematic census starting from 1971, demographic conditions) and 5 users. In the following years, we implemented other 30 areas and we opened the systems to all the users and stakeholders involved.

At the end of each year a plan is prepared for development of the following year.

The success obtained has guaranteed new budget to go on with the project and to add new functionalities (as dashboard), data sources, reports and so on.

To better match the user needs a continuous training has been put in place in order

  • refresh and increase technical skills on reporting tools (in this way users are able to create in autonomy complex analysis and reports)
  • communicate new information areas and reports available in SìGOVe
  • discover new opportunities and requirements.

Usually the single end-to-end implementation cycle of a sector (from collecting users requirements to the deployment of the solution in the production environment)  takes a 2/4 months timeframe. For the tasks performed in each module see attachment "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 5.

The cohesion of team members is decisive to reach the goal in an effective way. The HP Business intelligence implementation methodology (BIIM) in the BI / DWH scenario, specifically adopted on the project, allow the team to reach the targets in such a short time.

Today the system consists of 30 information flows, has more than 20 business context of analysis, 350 predefined reports organized in areas, 14 dashboard pages on different subjects (i.e. economy, agriculture, tourism, population). The database schema has more than 500 staging tables, 200 fact tables, 280 dimension tables.

Technology solution

First of all the partner has been evaluated; it was necessary to find out a partner with functional and technical skills and ability to manage complex project. The partners had to support  the design and implementation of the innovative statistical information system for the Veneto Region, SìGOVe.

After the choice our IT Department (Veneto Region) and the partner itself focused in the architecture design and the software selection process, evaluating technologies based on a best of breed approach.

Of course, the selection process was guided by both the IT and Business Users requirements to define a new standard and scalable architecture to answer to the following needs:

  • leverage the Veneto Region investment in technology
  • evaluate the obsolescence of the product/platform used
  • have a unique stack to address the BI functionalities
  • allow a flexible and a progressive grow of the BI solution in term of functionalities
  • define a BI solution that allow a central management reducing the need of any local technical representative in business department
  • choice of a standard solution with solid technical foundation and a local presence of skilled resources in the market

At the end of the process we identified the new application standard for BI projects in which Oracle RDBMS was the maintained choice for the data layer and the Business Objects suite was the new choice for the data integration, application and presentation layer.

Access to SìGOVe is allowed in the Intranet of Regione Veneto or through the Internet (http://sigove.regione.veneto.it/InfoViewApp/logon.jsp). In order to access SìGOVe you have to be an authorized user. As of today, direct access to the system is allowed to DSSR users and users belonging to Regione Veneto.

From a technical view point: the web and the application servers are based on HP Proliant technology, while the database is on an HP superdome server.

To see the application architecture please refer "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 7 and 10.

Impact, innovation and results

Impact

The main results of SìGOVe are

  • DSSR users can produce their publication in about half a time they can do before
  • DSSR users can perform cross functional analysis, using on the same reports indicators on economy, demography, environment and so on
  • The standard loading process for data update take place in few hours and the data is ready to be used for reporting with detail or aggregated level; high-level dashboards are updated consistently. The data update process is managed by technical users within DSSR, supported by IT department
  • SìGOVe information is certified, covers multi sector information, spans a wide timeframe (from 5 to 20 years), is integrated on geography
  • Key indicators already prebuilt are automatically refreshed after the data update process
  • DSSR analyst have NOT to waste on data preparation and consolidation
  • Statistical users of other regional department can access the reports after they are refreshed
  • High level dashboard furnish managers an overview on the main indicators to have a clear picture of the Veneto situation
  • Vertical interactive dashboard allow users to investigate and interact with information

These improvements, that reduced the low-value work by many orders of magnitude, let the analysts and other users to focus on their high-value activities: create analysis from many information sources, evaluate the situation and support the decision process.

The data integration process has been drastically simplified. 

The users (politicians, council members, analysts ...) can reach a clear picture of the Veneto Region situation in a shorter time and they can compare "local" results to other significant National or International Regions.

Track record of sharing

The architecture and the strategic ideas that are at the basis of SìGOVe can be replicated in other context (national, regional and subregional). SìGOVe collects and manages information related to Veneto and for benchmarking with other Italian and European regions. We think that the SìGOVe content structure could be quite the same for all the local public government institutions as the aspects of the social life (economy, territory, demography, ...) are the same. This project can be used as a starting framework that can be easily transferred to other public institutions.

The whole architecture, in terms of types of applications, data model, data flows, data integration, information delivery (reports and dashboard) can be redeployed to another region, let's say, simply changing the data that feeds the system (please refer to "02_DSSR_SiGOVe_manager_GTZ_NDRC_chinese_delegation_13112008.pdf" page 8 for topics, page 5 for the information management process, page 7 and 10 for the system solution).

Sharing all this, a similar environment for another region can be deployed very quickly, the amount of time of the deployment depends on the information areas selected as some modules can be selected, others discarded. It is also possible to add new modules to the system.

The experience of the DSSR users and HP partner can also be leveraged.

DSSR users have a deep knowledge on statistical analysis and have already analyzed more than 30 information areas for the deployment in SìGOVe. They have also prepared about 350 predefined reports plus personal analysis.

Hp Business Intelligence consultants have supported DSSR users in the analysis of all the areas. They have developed the data models and data flows and implemented reports and dashboards.

Lessons learnt

We would like to emphasize the three main points that we identified to be successful/unsuccessful factors in the SìGOVe project; they are related to project approach, team structure and sponsorship and data quality.

Project approach

  • This kind of project can't be faced with a big-bang approach, changing the whole system at the same time: organizations, systems and processes. A modular approach with progressive release of contents, functionalities, target user groups has to been identified in order to define a "master plan". You have to start thinking the whole system but you have to give results in a timely manner: stakeholders and users wants to see results after few months since the start of the activities
  • The approach to each module is predefined: data sources selection, requirements analysis, data quality analysis, project planning, system design and development, data integration, data validation and test, reporting and analysis, metadata and documentation. At the end of each module we review the new lessons learned and use them in the following module

Team structure and sponsorship

  • The SìGOVe team mix must balance technical, application or functional competencies. The knowledge on the contents is important to create an exhaustive and precise requirement analysis, the technical knowledge is important to evaluate feasibility of the solution, plan and design accordingly the information area. After each cycle, errors and misunderstandings are reduced and project development is smoother
  • The sponsor commitment and the steering committee have to keep the project on track and they have to manage the changing environment

Data quality

  • Data dictionary and data value must be objective. Poor data quality is a costly issue. The difference has been done by the analysts' competence knowing the data quality issues. Performing analyses with poor data quality is always a bad starting point.
  • In order to take decision the data quality must be sure
  • Data quality is achieved through data integration and validation on historical data. Data quality is guaranteed with constant check and validation at every data update

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