This paper provides background, requirements, solutions, benefits and outcomes of the project work that went into the launch of the Global Engagement Dashboards at uwprofiles.uw.edu. The project was initiated by the Office of Global Affairs in partnership with the UW-IT’s Business Intelligence (BI) team, Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) team, and Enterprise Web Services (EWS) team.
The Office of Global Affairs recognized that there was limited access to UW global data information. Once the business needs were identified, and with support from leadership and collaboration with campus partners, the project delivered three dashboards containing several visualizations: global engagement, global engagement by country, and global engagement by unit. These visualizations provide data points and trends to help illustrate UW’s global engagement. They provide unit profiles at the country and college level, across academic years and student level groups. The key areas for global trends covered in these dashboards are: International Students, Global Alumni, Global Research, and Study Abroad.
In the past two decades, data has become an important and vital aspect of how the University of Washington (UW) operates. The first step was to create the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). Then, strategic initiatives were identified. The goal of one initiative was to enable the UW’s often siloed administrative units to work together in a unified manner toward a common vision fueled by relevant data and a commitment to continuous improvement.
In 2014 the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) identified the need for a tool that would allow the UW’s global data story to be told in an accessible and visually effective way. More specifically, OGA wanted the data to be:
- accessible by both campus and those outside the UW.
- sustainable without need for extra resources.
- automated for data accuracy and reduction of technical debt.
- timely, providing the most current data available.
- influential to the UW Strategic Initiatives.
- visually engaging.
The best approach to success was to collaborate with campus partners, break down silos and develop a long-term strategy behind the data.
“UW Profiles is an example of how existing data can be visualized to provide simple, yet powerful information about UW’s global reach without requiring any additional resources. This not only helps us further our larger goal of transforming administration but also illustrates the power of collaboration. This is a fine example of what the Office of Global Affairs and multiple other offices have done to build what none of us could have done on our own.”- Dr. Jeffrey Riedinger, Vice Provost, Office of Global Affairs
With the support of Dr. Jeffrey Riedinger, the Vice Provost for the Office of Global Affairs, the project kicked off.
Partnership and Collaboration
The partnership and collaboration was an integral part in telling the UW’s global data story.
Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics (EIIA)
When the Office of Global Affairs began its search for the ideal data and visualization solution, they connected with the UW’s Information Technology – Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics (EIIA) team. EIIA provides leadership and support across the UW in applying business intelligence and data warehousing best practices.
EIIA became a co-driver for the project once the decision was made to make data available through UW Profiles. EIIA was responsible for:
- Web Services – providing student data to the Office of Global Affairs so that it could be given to a third-party vendor to enrich and clean; setting up a secure and sustainable connection from a third-party Study Abroad software solution to the UW student systems.
- Data Warehouse - providing timely, reliable, institutional data vetted through the EDW process and ensuring data custodians have approved all column names, terms and definitions as well as combined and exposed administrative research, student and advancement data; building out new address data from Advancement.
- Business Intelligence (BI) – providing guidance, direction and quality assurance resources to incorporate the Office of Global Affairs global dashboards using the data from EDW into UW Profiles.
Crucial and necessary partnerships were required to help the Office of Global Affairs achieve its goals. Data adjustments, data connections, contribution of data, and updated internal processes had to take place.The crucial partnerships included the UW’s:
- Added a direct data feed to pull current alumni addresses data into the EDW (for displaying on the global maps)
- Office of Planning & Budgeting – Institutional Analysis
- Provided guidance for data definitions and reporting on International and Study Abroad students.
- Office of Research Information Services (ORIS)
- Added a multi-select “country” field for international work in SAGE. This newly added field provided more specific data to whether research was being performed internationally and in what country.
The Data Solution
During the analysis phase of the project, UW Profiles was vetted to confirm that it would meet the business requirements necessary to make this project a success.
“UW Profiles was the right solution for this project because Office of Global Affairs’ leadership was very clear about its goals and business requirements. UW Profiles met these requirements, which is why we were very happy to collaborate and host these visualizations.” – Bart Pietrzak, Enterprise Integration, Information & Analytics Senior Technology Manager
Because of the solutions, vetting, and access privileges, UW Profiles became the perfect, long term solution the Office of Global Affairs had been looking for. Here is how the requirements matched up to the offerings UW Profiles provided:
|Office of Global Affairs Business Requirement:||UW Profiles Offerings:|
|Secure, Accessible and Transparent: Accessible by all campuses and those outside the UWResourceful and Low Cost: Sustainable without need for extra resources
Automated: Automated for data accuracy and reduction of technical debt
Timely: Provide the most current data available
Strategic: Influential to the UW Strategic initiatives.
Visual and Consistent: Visually effective
|Secure, Accessible and Transparent: UW Profiles has campus-only access; backend data can automatically populate the Office of Global Affairs’ website visualizationResourceful and Low Cost: EIIA maintains resources, support, and capability enhancements
Automated and Timely: EDW data lives within reports that have been vetted through a metadata process, refreshed nightly providing the most current information
Strategic: EDW supports the long-term UW strategy
Visual and Consistent: Visualizations are created based on the backend report data
“UW profiles was the perfect fit due to three reasons. First, it helped us create a sustainable dashboard by direct EDW connections, where a data refresh is easy. Second, we could leverage the already established NetID access authentication at various levels without worry of who gets data access. Third, UW Profiles was already established and campus associated it to reliable and correct data.” – Sudha Sharma, Office of Global Affairs Technical Project Lead.
The Data Details
The work details included categories, data trends and filters, and to even answer questions for specific audiences. The upcoming work goes deeper into UW administrative research.
The data populates the UW Profiles Global Dashboards in three categories:
- Global Engagement
- Global Engagement by Country
- Global Engagement by Unit
The data also covers four data trends:
- International Students
- Global Alumni
- Global Research
- Study Abroad
The data can be filtered by:
- Academic Year
- Student level
This data provides answers to questions posed by the following key audiences:
- Campus Leadership: How many alumni are living in a particular country?
- College Deans: In my college, where are the international students from? Where are our students going to study abroad ?
Upcoming UW Administrative Research Data
When “Country” fields in Research are populated and data gathered, more questions can be answered such as:
- Is research taking place in the same location from where we get international students?
- Is research taking place in the same location from where students go to study abroad?
The Ongoing Benefits
This project stretches across many different areas on campus. As time passes more benefits are being identified, such as:
- understanding where faculty research partnerships are taking place
- building and expanding partnerships
- creating interactive data visualization maps
- aligning institutional data with strategic initiatives
- supporting more institutional data-driven decision making
Because the data gave a quick representation of where research was taking place all over the world, it provided a unique opportunity to quickly see in a visualization how far the UW stretches. The research footprint that UW has around the world is extensive. To support the UW’s effort to attract researchers, this provided a great opportunity for outreach.
Because partners were able to collaborate, they were able to achieve a long-term solution that delivered strategic values to the UW. The solution allowed for more productive partnerships across the UW.
People grasp concepts much faster when presented in a visual format. Using the UW data to power these visualizations provided a quick and easy way to digest information. These visualizations could be used in presentations, support nationwide outreach and as support documentation for any opportunity.
UW Strategic Initiatives
Through strategic initiatives, the UW leadership urges all of campus to continue to break down the silos, use the “sum is bigger than parts” approach, continue to make good use of resources and to not duplicate efforts, and more importantly, create a more sustainable UW.
This project also allowed for more strategic conversations to take place about consistency of data definitions, standardizing of fields like country names, etc. Many opportunities were highlighted throughout this process, especially as it pertains to global data.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Over the last two decades, the UW has been steadily moving to a data-driven approach which is why the EDW was created. By having this single location as a repository and clearing system for current and historical data, operational reporting and strategic analysis can be done.
“Global Dashboards are a major step forward in the University’s data-driven culture. While telling the compelling story of the UW’s impact, the project also showcases an impressive level of collaboration across several units at a truly enterprise level. This matters, because the institution needs to be able to rely on and utilize its data effectively in order to manage itself as a world-class university.” – Anja Canfield-Budde, Associate Vice President, UW-IT Information Management
The positive outcomes stretched beyond just the UW campuses and community.
UW Website Homepage
UW Web Marketing recognized the bigger impact. They took this opportunity to add “Global Impact” in the “About” menu drop-down on the main UW homepage, making global outreach at the UW more accessible and visible.
In May 2017, the Office of Global Affairs rolled out a Public Global Map as a public resource on the UW website. This allowed publishers and news organizations to quickly access data that may be relevant to a story about the UW’s global impact. This map uses the same underlying data populating UW Profiles.
This project created and strengthened partnerships with the iSchool DataLab, UW Web Marketing, UW Advancement and International Student Services.
The iSchool DataLab helped extract the bibliographic data (publications, citations, author profiles, etc.) for all UW faculty which included removing the vagueness of authors and institutions. This led to mapping the UW faculty collaborations in various countries around the globe after being merged with the EDW data.
UW Web Marketing
UW Web Marketing helped the Office of Global Affairs deliver this public map on its website.
UW Advancement (Information Management)
By partnering with UW Advancement, the Office of Global Affairs were able to integrate data showing the alumni chapters around the globe.
“With the EDW team as our guide, the level of collaboration between UW Advancement and the Office of Global Affairs helped initiate several conversations that will lead to enhanced data quality regarding international address data.” – Alex Ichinoe, UW Advancement Associate Director, Reporting
International Student Services
International Student Services are now able to use this solution to report on international students in a consistent, more affordable method.
In 2017, the UW’s Office of Global Affairs submitted an application on behalf of the UW for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research and Engagement. The UW was named a finalist. The application prominently featured the project data.