The easy interchange of data is crucial for national defense and security, and for protecting infrastructure and lives, both civilian and warfighters. On a regular basis, branches of the military must exchange information among components, Federal agencies, coalition partners, foreign governments and international organizations as a critical element of efforts to defend the nation and execute national strategy. This strategy enables defense departments to achieve improved unity of effort, a reduction in decision time, increased adaptability of forces, improved situational awareness, and greater precision in mission planning and execution. But defense departments are still struggling to support the sharing of necessary information like electronic health records (EHR) data between military branches and the Veterans Affairs (VA), for example, due to architecture differences. There is a simple solution.
This is the idea of data democratization, the ability for information in a digital format to be accessible to the average end-user. The goal of data democratization is to allow non-specialists to be able to gather and analyze data without requiring outside help or intervention.
Defense departments have historically enabled data sharing with locked solutions and helper applications that serve to eliminate the differences in data formats that exist between branches of the military. These solutions are developed by the defense community and, therefore, have the appearance of fast value. The helper applications, like User Assistance and User Interface applications, are included in pre-deployed stacks that are controlled by consultants.
When these solutions haven’t predictably achieved the desired results, defense departments go to committee to find an alternative solution. Unfortunately, these types of standards bodies can take months to years to come up with a solution.
Schema on read is the solution. It presents a huge value proposition for defense departments and can help circumvent the need for a workaround to address the frequent data sharing needs across branches for everything from HR and Payroll information to more mission-focused data. Schema on read behaves completely differently from traditional data hubs based on schema on write. Instead of having to decide what data is important before it is ingested, defense departments can make that critical decision when they are querying. This means they don’t lose any data, not even “dirty data.” No longer will defense departments have to get rid of data just because it doesn’t match the tool or query they’re using. Rather they can simply change the tool or the query.
Schema on read democratizes data so that defense departments can easily share it. By accounting for the unknowns and constant flow of data from defense departments, they can use a 10-line file rather than a 10-month committee to share data without exposing it to those who don’t need it. Different queries can be created for different departments, facilitating fast and secure data sharing.
Schema on read addresses architecture differences that complicate the complete sharing of data and offers the DoD and its branches the most complete and effective way to collaborate. As data volumes continue to increase and the appetite for data sharing grows, it’s time to consider a shift in how we approach this challenge.