“The Best States for Data Innovation,” an 85-page report issued on August 4 by the nonpartisan Center for Data Innovation, based in Washington, D.C., ranked New Jersey 23rd based on 25 indicators related to data and new technology availability and usage, as well as the digital infrastructure, technology-related education, and open data-related jobs and companies.
Because data, computers and technology are significant drivers of society and the economy, policymakers should be supporting and investing resources to make their states leaders in data-driven innovation, the report contends.
Long-Term Implications of Today’s Decisions
“Decisions that policymakers make today to encourage data-driven innovation will have long-term implications for states’ future growth and their residents’ quality of life,” said Daniel Castro, director of the DCI and lead author of the report.
“Early adopters will benefit immediately from using data to make headway in addressing social challenges from energy efficiency to affordable healthcare. By positioning themselves at the forefront of data innovation, states will also be able to grow and attract the right kinds of companies to become hubs of the data economy.”
The center’s analysis is the first to assess state’s relative strength in three categories critical to encouraging and enabling data-driven innovation.
It looks at: data, including the extent to which key datasets are available; technology, including the availability of broadband internet and other key digital infrastructure; and the number of open data companies in the state and the size of the data science community.
New Jersey is among the best states in some of the areas the center considers important, and among the worst in others:
- 2nd for computer science and statistics Advanced Placement tests. In 2015, 14.1 of 100 students who took AP tests were tested in computer science and statistics and they scored an average 3.3 out of 5. Students who take computer science and statistics in high school, in addition to being more data literate, are more likely to major in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — in college and go into STEM fields.
- 4th in software service jobs. 2.05 percent of all those employed were working as computer programmers, software developers, and computer and information-systems managers. These jobs are an important part of a state’s knowledge economy and help businesses and institutions collect, share, and analyze data.
- 47th for the use of “smart meters” for electricity. Not quite 1 percent of all residential, commercial and industrial users had a smart meter, with enhanced, two-way communication technology that provides information to energy providers and consumers about prices, usage patterns, and inefficiencies, in 2015. In only eight other states were fewer than 10 percent of meters smart; Maine had the highest proportion – more than 90 percent.
- 50th for the percentage of doctors and hospitals using electronic health records. The report ranked this important because it said data sharing is required to reduce healthcare costs, increase patient safety, and improve quality of care. In 2015, 84 percent of hospitals nationally had at least a basic electronic health record system, but only three quarters of New Jersey hospitals had adopted such a system, as had 62 percent of doctors.
New Jersey also got mixed marks for its public data. The highest ranking, ninth, was for legislative data, while the lowest, 29th, was for government finance data, with a ranking of 12th for education data.
As for access to government data, New Jersey ranked only 31st, with the report relying heavily on the Center for Public Integrity’s 2015 Corruption Risk Index, on which New Jersey had received a grade of D.
O’Dea reported that the five top-ranked states — Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, California, and Delaware — are thriving hubs of data-driven innovation, support STEM in public schools, invest in e-government, implement robust open-data policies, and promote the deployment of health information technology.
For the report’s recommendations and the rest of O’Dea’s story, click here.