Keeping IT Confidential

Which data is opened and which stays closed

Back Article Jul 9, 2015 By Allison Joy

One of the primary concerns of the open data movement is confidentiality. Open data involves making public information more readily available and putting it into a format that technologists can use.

“It’s not secret data,” says West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. “It’s already held by the government; the data sets are all subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It’s not private, confidential data. It’s already open to the public, but it’s just not in any usable form.”

The California Department of Public Health does not publish private health information, and it divides data into three tiers:

Tier 1: Data that is already published in the public purview and has been verified to exclude private health information.

Tier 2: Data that, though it may be made public, may also contain certain sensitivities to various communities within the state. This information needs to go through higher levels of review prior to publishing.

Tier 3: Confidential or private data that contains identifiers and would not be published on the agency’s open data portal.

SOURCE: Dr. James Greene, Deputy Director of the CDPH Center for Health Statistics and Informatics. 

Find out how local technologists are using open data to feed Californians in Allison Joy’s July feature, “Will Hack for Food.” Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.