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CitySmart Blog

Thursday, December 1, 2016
Brian Ocfemia, Technical Account Manager

Brian OcfemiaAs a follow-up to my post about data processing, this post discusses data output. For those who are not data-savvy or immersed in the world of data, it might seem like output is just output, right? No need to worry about output if you do input and processing correctly, right?

Not the case! Data output offers up some unique security risks and challenges that you need to fend off. Here are a few data output areas to assess.

1. Access to confidential information

When data output gets seen or delivered to a person—whether it’s city staff looking at a paper report or a citizen using your city’s website—that data must not reveal confidential information. For example, it should never be easy to see a social security number online with only a few data inputs. Or, personnel records should not be made available in a paper report that may get passed around to unauthorized people. Place controls over who sees outputted data.

2. Availability of data output

For employees and citizens who need to see certain information, data output needs to be highly available. That means your hardware and software needs to perform at a high standard. Lack of availability to data affects the jobs of your employees and interferes with citizen services (such as paying property taxes online).

3. Formatting, reports, and analysis

Ever run a report and get a spreadsheet full of gobbledygook and unstructured, unformatted data. Outputted data is not helpful if it can’t be read or interpreted. The end result of data input and processing must be understandable and usable. Work with your software vendors and IT staff or vendor to ensure that you receive data output in a digestible, user-friendly form.

4. Monitoring

Similar to our suggestions for data input and data processing, it’s always a good idea to monitor data output. Not only do you help quality control by detecting errors and anomalies but you also stay alert for security risks and breaches.

5. Compliance

In addition to security and usability, cities must also ensure that they comply with all federal and state laws. This includes laws that balance privacy (such as keeping personal information like social security numbers private) with freedom of information. Data breaches can occur and lead to fines and lawsuits when outputted data gets in the wrong hands as a result of careless policies and procedures.

When considering these best practices, it’s clear that a few patterns emerge.

  • Rely on monitoring and automation to eliminate errors.
  • Seek help from IT professionals and software vendor support.
  • Create clear policies and procedures to comply with the law and lessen security risks.

Questions about securing your data? Reach out to us today.