The Commonwealth of Virginia’s cloud-based data sharing platform is pulling double duty in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to its original purpose combating the opioid crisis, the state’s chief data office said July 9 during a webinar hosted by AWS and MeriTalk.

The state’s Framework for Addiction Analysis and Community Transformation (FAACT) is a cross-agency, cloud-based, data-sharing platform originally used to fight the opioid scourge. The platform’s mission set expanded on June 20 when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced it would also be used to help better understand and defeat the coronavirus pandemic.

Virginia CDO Carlos Rivero, AWS Leader of Public Health & U.S. Elections Michael B. Jackson, and Qlarion CEO Jake Bittner discussed how the data-sharing platform has helped state operations during the complementary July 9 webinar.

“From the expansion of opioid to COVID, it wasn’t really a very difficult thing to see where you have a lot of the same players, especially from the healthcare space, operating and providing and contributing data into an environment that’s going to help us make the most intelligent decisions,” Rivero said.

In identifying which communities were ready to participate in FAACT, Rivero explained there were two components at play: organizational maturity and digital readiness.

Regarding organizational maturity, Rivero offered that “there needed to be a coalition of organizations that have enough respect and trust with each other that wanted to share data” to solve the pandemic. On the digital readiness front, Rivero said that organizations should determine if they have data assets readily available to be ingested into the platform.

According to Jackson, the FAACT platform – and data sharing as a whole – has provided many benefits to information sharing around COVID-19.

“Data sharing leads to better collaboration between agencies and stakeholders … but many of these individuals or entities would otherwise be operating in a silo – each of them independently – so at the highest level, the first benefit is better collaboration,” Jackson said. He added that “better collaboration leads to a more coordinated response.”

The goal of the data-sharing platform, Bittner says, is to become much better at fighting events like the COVID-19 pandemic in the future, and being more effective in doing so.

“The whole entire goal really is to move from a reactive stance to a more proactive stance, which is a much, much more effective way to fight these sorts of things in the future,” Bittner said.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.