What is Campus Data?
Campus Data (https://data.uiowa.edu) will act as a data clearinghouse / portal for the University of Iowa. It will allow data stewards to publish information about their reports and other data items. This information can be searched and filtered by end users allowing them to quickly find reports and data that they are looking for. Today, campus users have to navigate various applications, data stewards, and technologies to pull together information they need to do their job. The ultimate goal of Campus Data is to greatly simplify that task and in the process move us towards a data-driven university.
Reports and other data items will continue to be created and hosted through tools that data stewards are familiar with. Campus Data will simply link off to those data items when the user clicks on them. By consolidating information about all types of data items published throughout campus, we make them easier to find from a single place. By offering a consistent way to describe and document data items, we hope to improve the experience working with data as well. Spend less time finding data and understand what it is telling you more quickly as well.
Where is that report? I remember looking at it 3 months ago. Was it in MAUI, the Provost's website, or did someone email it to me? Who do I even ask where it might be? Now that I have the report, what is the data telling me? This report has a GPA column, but which type of GPA is it? Who can tell me? When was this data generated, is it still valid?
These are the questions that we want to eliminate. Regardless of where the actual data is stored or reported from, if people think of Campus Data as the starting point for all things data related, then we think this will be a useful tool for both publishers and consumers of data around campus.
These are screen shots of initial prototypes and may change during implementation.
- Home Page - Favorites
- Home Page - Recommendations
- Search Results
- Data Explorer - Payroll Reports published by Human Resources
- Data Explorer - Academic Data with descriptions sorted by data format
- Report Description / Documentation Page
- Publishing - Summary Page
- Publishing - Security & Access
- Request Data - Submission Form
- Team Summary Page
- Team Configuration - Attributes
- Team Configuration - Members
- Team Configuration - Data Requests
- User Settings
Note: These screenshots might show data that focuses on Academic or Human Resources topics only because that is the data that the team is familiar with. Our goal is for Campus Data to be used by all types of groups throughout campus.
The full set of features is still being crafted through discussions with campus, initially we will focus on three key areas of functionality:
- Fast keyword search that allows you to search through titles, descriptions, and categories of reports and other data items.
- Browse the complete set of data items that are available and filter them by attributes such as Topic, Data Steward, Data Format, Tags, and Keywords.
- Mark data items as a favorite and quickly access those items from the home page.
- View reports and data items recommended for you based on your role, position, department or other attributes.
- View reports and data items that are popular, both long term and short term.
- A simple user interface that allows you to sort items by title, data steward, popularity, and other attributes.
- An interface that works well for novices and power users, desktop and mobile clients.
- Describe reports and other data items through easy to use interfaces.
- Publish data to all of campus or a restricted group of people through simple security settings.
- Assign security based on roles, user attributes, or groups that you create and control.
- Link reports and data to other similar items.
- View detailed reports and analytics telling you how often your data is used, and who is using it.
- Provide consistent documentation for your users through standard fields and attributes.
- Organize data through teams, control who has rights to publish data on that team's behalf.
Requesting Data or Access to Data
- Fill out a simple form to describe the data you need, track the request through completion.
- Route your request to a specific data steward, or leave it to Campus Data to make sure it gets to the right place.
- Publishers can use the form to collect more information, and tie the request to the published data item.
- Integrate the requests with your own issue tracking software or processes
- Request access to existing data through the same process, collect approvals through Universal Workflow.
Campus Data started as an internal tool for collecting and reporting metrics data in a consistent and simple way. Recognizing that this goal was similar to a broad campus need to improve how everyone finds, publishes, and requests data, we shifted our focus to consider what a campus data portal might look like. We researched similar projects and tools, including - but not limited to, the following:
Government Data Portals
University Data Portals
Data Portal Products
In the Spring of 2015, we developed a prototype for Campus Data. This was a simple HTML mock-up that could be shown various groups to see if our ideas were consistent with their needs and pain points. At this point, Campus Data was still a small internal project with limited resources devoted to it. We continued to refine the prototype from April through June.
During the Summer of 2015, we started sharing the prototype with a wider group of users, data stewards, and stakeholders around campus. Discussions included leadership from IT, Finance and Operations, and the Provost Office. Those discussions helped to affirm our general direction and raised some issues that we will continue to discuss and react to.
We will continue to meet with others as we can. Use our feedback form if you would like to schedule a demo of Campus Data and share your feedback with us.
In the Fall or 2015, after validating the ideas behind Campus Data with these groups, we have formed a small team to turn the prototype into a working system. We are working towards implementing basic functionality as quickly as possible with plans to continue to evolve the system once it is in production.
We plan to release a small initial version of Campus Data as quickly as possible. We will then track usage and feedback and develop new features based on how it is being used. We plan on releasing an initial version of Campus Data six months after we have started development with that target being sometime in the first quarter of 2016.
Short Term Plan
At first, we expect to load the system with information about reports from a limited number of data stewards. We have not yet identified which groups or reports to load, but we expect to target frequently used reports and our goal is to populate the system with enough information to make it a compelling destination for users. We will focus on internal campus users first. Functionality for publishing public information will be planned for future versions. Initial functionality will include:
- Simple search, browser, and filter tools
- Simple publishing tools to load the initial set of data items into the system
- Simple data/access request tools
- Administrative tools to manage data teams and user access
- Lists of recommended data items based on user roles (curated)
- Links to external data items only (reports, files, etc.)
- Basic documentation and data categorization tools
- Usage tracking and analytics
Long Term Plan
Our long term plans including continuing to develop the system to include features included in the initial prototype including:
- Campus wide Help and Support tools
- Support for more sophisticated security restrictions
- Expanding publishing tool (linking similar data, more reports, data dictionaries)
- Developer integration tools (APIs, imports, embedding content in your apps/sites)
- More power data browsing tools (popular items, automatic recommendations)
- Support for building simple datasets from various sources within the portal
- Expand data formats beyond links to reports (cubes, visualizations, dashboards, APIs, articles)
- Expand functionality for teams (role management, groups, publishing signoffs)
- Integrate security model with additional campus roles / groups
- Providing the ability to publish public information and the tools to support it
While we will limit our initial release to data items published by a small number of teams, we hope to quickly learn from that experience and expand availability to more and more teams on campus. We will likely setup a queue of interested data publishers, and work with each team individually to assess their needs and help them get the most out of publishing their data via Campus Data.