Graph Data Platforms for Dutch Municipalities

Data collection and utilization have perennially been a top priority across Dutch municipalities. While much energy and effort are dedicated to maximizing information, the technology and legacy systems in an organizational culture or structure can lag behind current data capacities and options. We aimed to help transform governmental digital information systems in order to better facilitate municipal services and policies along with interdepartmental coordination.

Municipalities Improve Data Through Sharing

Several years ago, the base registers and system standards (basisregistraties) were introduced; data points had to implement standardized storage across ten separate base registers in order to create a coherent system for all government organizations. Each municipal department is responsible for validating and updating the base registers for their specialty and region. Examples of the datasets are: Key Register Addresses and Buildings (BAG), Key Register Persons (BRP) and the Trade Register (HR).

These datasets are essential in helping municipalities analyze and solve a wide variety of problems. The Department of Public Safety, for example, uses data to gain deeper insight into housing fraud, money laundering or other illegal activities. Accessibility to the base registers can be the biggest obstacle to utilizing data. The process of gathering the information and disseminating it across the municipality’s many departments can be arduous for the data analysts. Aurai created a platform to make data accessible, complete and self-sufficient, so that the relevant information for municipal services is immediately available to municipalities.

Standardizing Information for Clarification

It was important to place the integration of the new platform under the supervision of the municipality’s data team. To produce tangible results, the prototype had to be designed to fit the context of a specific case.  Although data inefficiencies occurred across the municipality, we observed that the Safety and Undermining department in particular had struggled with the inaccessibility of datasets. We made extra efforts to include this department frequently while we developed a case study to improve data accessibility throughout the new platform. The municipal data team would enable the project, whereas the Public Safety Department would benefit as the end-user. The development and application of this platform helps the Safety and Undermining department in the immediate future, but also provides a model and replicable process for relevant cases in different departments.

Analysis Is Easy When Relations Are Visual 

Aurai built a graph database for the data platform’s storage. This platform is based on visualization and graphic presentations and makes the data insightful and ready for analysis. A graph database is defined beforehand and stores the relationship between data points, instead of a relational database. This makes the platform scalable, low maintenance and easy to visualize. The project involved updating, restructuring and validating each associated dataset to remain durable and valuable well into the future.

Replicable Government Data-Driven Analysis

By developing a graph data platform to fit every department, we helped the municipality to update and validate their key registers. Data was made easily accessible for analysis and the quickly scalable Graph Data, which with the help of tooling, made the information visual. When the analysis of the data is heavily relational, this visualization capacity flushes out the correlations and correspondence in public policy and governing approaches.