‘Firm intervention’ for Common Ground? Or let’s just get started?

At its core, Common Ground promises nothing complicated; available data is retrieved from the government source and not stored locally, and everything is done with standard APIs.

in the context of Digital Transformation, identical initiatives are being launched within corporate business. Chain integration and the supply-chain idea at its best. Is that going to work for the full 100%? Of course not! But then why do we still go ahead?

The utopia of every CIO; we know exactly who owns certain data, we only store everything once and ensure that all that reliable data can be shared in a secure way with everyone who has the right rights to do so. Finally no more “second-hand” data. We can show auditors exactly where which data is, who can view this data and that “a spreadsheet” with privacy-sensitive data is nowhere to be found.

To achieve this, a lot needs to be done; agreements on naming, on the APIs and which parameters they expect, security protocols, audits, monitoring and much more. Is there one company in the world that will dare to tell me that they have set up the ultimate form of the “Connected Enterprise” where all data from the entire organization is shared in an unambiguous way? I don’t think so. The will is undoubtedly there, but no one is “ready” yet, not now, and will not be in the next 5 years or so to come.

This is a process

Back to the Dutch government and the Common Ground initiative. The Netherlands has more than 500 (semi)government institutions; large ministries, small and large municipalities, water boards, provinces and ZBOs such as the UWV, the Land Registry etc. And all of them use data from each other that largely matches. Are all these organizations convinced of the usefulness of Common Ground? I’m almost certain of it. Every official knows the misery that arises when data is outdated, incomplete or simply wrong.

Will all these institutions go 100% Common Ground within now and 2 years? Of course not! This is a process that will take years and ministries will make faster steps than a small municipality, if only because ministries have more money, more staff, and there is more knowledge to convert existing processes.

Common Ground is not perfect

So why not a “strong intervention” so that the entire government will introduce Common Ground to the letter in the short term? I’m not into mandatory. Everyone needs everything from all kinds of people and organizations all day long. Common Ground is not perfect but will ultimately offer enormous benefits for citizens, businesses and government institutions. The first small successes will lead to new successes, after which bigger and bigger steps will be made. And that will continue for years to come, until even the most opponent IT administrator will see his self-written application for reporting disturbance of breeding birds, that this application must also be buried after 21 years to make way for a new (Common Ground based) version.

Common Ground will evolve in the coming years and no one should think that it will all happen by itself. But sometimes you just have to stop planning meetings about it and just start…..