Bushfire Recovery Victoria is only just over 100 days old, but it has already figured out how crucial data is when it comes to assisting bushfire-affected communities.

Speaking as part of SAP Virtual 2020 on Thursday, chief executive Lee Miezis said collating data into one place means relieving people of the need to “tell their story about their trauma over and over again”.

“They should be able to tell it once and all service providers can understand where that person is, but equally can understand what assistance that person has had in the past, what are some of the upcoming challenges or barriers that they’re perhaps going to have in their recovery journey so that we can then start proactively moving some of those barriers out of the way. To do that, data is absolutely key,” he said.

“We need to be able to bring together different sources of information, managed through privacy requirements to make sure that people are being treated with dignity through the process.”

He explained how part of that process has involved working with government and non-government organisations to generate relevant data points.

The need to access the right data has been particularly further highlighted by the current coronavirus environment, Miezis said, which has forced agency for a third of its existence to operate remotely.

“Those incidental conversations that you can have with people that give you valuable intelligence about where they’re at, where the community is at, what are some of the challenges, we’re missing out on that, so we’re even more reliant on data and raw information,” he said.

“I think this has forced organisations like mine, and I’m sure many others, to really think about how you bring data together in a fast, simple way to meet multiple purposes, but ultimately make sure the business that you run are targeted … we are absolutely reliant on good data for us to fulfil our organisational purposes.”

At the same time, the Victorian government agency has also had to battle with establishing an infrastructure that not only serves the organisation in the present, but in the long run too.

“We’ve had to stand up really quickly, leverage what we can across the Victorian government, in some cases bring disparate things together in the best way we can, as we build out the legacy systems that we will require as a permanent agency,” Miezis said.

This article first appeared on ZD Net.

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