Open data key to vaccine rollout
As the Delta variant continues to spread across the country and Sydney’s lockdown continues, all eyes are on the Australian government and its handling of the vaccine rollout.
In any situation, crisis or otherwise, it is easy for data to take a back seat as people are focused on attending to what’s in front of them or what’s immediate. But data needs to be put at the forefront to enable informed decision-making and strategy, allowing governments to set targets and track progress towards milestones and targets.
Unfortunately, when data is siloed, key decision-makers are unable to see the full picture and make informed decisions. This is where setting up a data pipeline comes in. Real-time, accurate data is invaluable when responding to rapidly changing situations that cause significant disruption, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is why, in April 2021, Australia’s federal, state and territory leaders agreed to create an intergovernmental agreement to facilitate greater data sharing between all levels of government to improve Australia’s COVID-19 response. This, in combination with Operation Covid Shield Head Lieutenant-General John Frewen’s declared intention in June to provide more detailed open data on the vaccine rollout to the public, reflects a potential turn in the tide of Australia’s vaccine rollout, as the government implements data-driven strategy to manage the vaccine rollout.
Open data are datasets collected by agencies that are made freely available to anyone that wants them, across different levels of government as well as to the media and general public.
In short, open data allows decision-makers to see the full picture and understand on a granular level the situation they face, using this to make data-informed decisions. It facilitates vaccination tracking, supply chain/availability monitoring to demographics and areas that require them more urgently, and develop policies designed to ensure the Australian public is kept safe and informed on the COVID-19 pandemic.
By decentralising and opening up data across governments, leaders and key decision-makers are given the most accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions in real time, which is particularly important at a time of major economic and geopolitical disruption.
The Australian Government has already shown itself to be adept with data, with the Department of Health’s (DoH) successful implementation of data analytics and visualisation through 2020 to monitor and report on COVID-19 information to key stakeholders. The DoH partnered with Qlik to implement data-driven strategy in response to the 2020 outbreak, enabling the National Incident Room to keep the Australian public informed, monitor resources and inform decisions on lockdowns and other restrictions to keep the public safe.
By analysing many disparate datasets from across the nation in real time, this approach provided pin-point accurate and actionable data, which informed the government’s decision-making in response to the pandemic.
If the government is able to apply this same open-data and data-sharing strategy to the vaccine rollout, Australia can set measurable milestones and objectives, track their implementation and adjust their approach as necessary with exponentially increased accuracy and efficacy. As a result, the public can be kept informed, the economy can continue to recover and the government can roll out the vaccine effectively as part of the four-phase pathway out of COVID-19.
Ultimately, Australia’s general public will benefit the most from open data sharing on the vaccine rollout. With improved supply chain management and communications, citizens will be able to better understand when and where they can be vaccinated and trust the information they receive. By implementing open data and learning from other governments’ vaccine rollouts, Australia can ensure that enough vaccines are being distributed where they are needed and implement a data-driven strategy that will keep the public informed, drive economic recovery and keep the country safe from COVID-19.
With the government’s ultimate goal being to return our country to a normal way of life, vaccinating the population is step one, and if we are to rollout the vaccine effectively, open data is the key.
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