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Maryland builds cloud for sharing data across departments

Initially envisioned as a cloud-based platform to allow a variety of health and human services agencies to share data, the Maryland Total Health and Human Services Network has started with sharing information between Human Services and Juvenile Services departments.

After the large cloud contract was approved by the Department of Human Services in August, data from both departments has been moved to the platform, but sharing will not occur until the attorney general or legal counsel approves.

Cloudera’s role-based access capabilities will allow MD THINK users to view only data that specific to their needs.  The goal is to be able to share information among various agency silos, but put it into through a “highly segregated” platform with security controls to limit the amount of sharing of unnecessary details.

 “There is a lot of overlap with our kids in our child welfare program and those in the juvenile services program,” John Evans, deputy chief technology officer at MD THINK, told GCN after a panel at Sept. 27 Splunk user conference.  “The way that the case management is done between the two departments is highly analogous, so we are essentially creating one platform that they can log into and use.”

The platform was initially conceived to include health benefits data from the Department of Health as well, but the work has been scaled back to the two agencies with similar datasets. 

“We don’t want to start with much complexity in the program, but we want to have the ability to create additional opportunities once agreements are made with other agencies,” Evans said. 

One opportunity for more collaboration could evolve into determining the “total cost of a person” based on data from state and federal agencies.  “Through creating a shared data depository, we can make sure information is shared on common platform, where we can start making these kinds of connections,” he said. 

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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