Peking University's Practice and Exploration of School Affairs Data Governance
School affairs data is an important intangible resource for universities. From the perspective of management, school affairs data refers to school management information generated during the operation process of universities and their subordinate organizations based on their rights and responsibilities, stored or used through the Internet or computer systems. Such data includes but is not limited to data of personnel identity, asset and equipment, teaching and scientific research, academic support, administrative operation, and service assurance. School affairs data is an objective record of university operation and management in the electronic school affairs information system. There is a basic logical relationship between data and university business. It is not the data that determines the business, but the business that determines the data, and the two are essentially an object and corresponding subject.
In Peking University's school affairs management, the main information resources stored in the system are usually used to study and define different types of school affairs data. After more than 20 years of on-going investment in informatization, Peking University also faces challenges in data quality, data sharing, data application, and data security.
From the technical perspective, the preceding challenges are the inevitable result of asynchronous, insufficient, and unbalanced informatization in universities, due to the technical tools used by different fields and departments having different focuses.
From the perspective of management, there are issues of unreasonable planning and poor resource coordination. Technology practitioners often lack a sufficient voice on the business side. They can participate in planning or develop plans, but cannot effectively coordinate resources to better implement them. On the other hand, due to traditional constraints, it is difficult for business departments to devote dedicated resources to understanding and executing informatization tasks.
These weaknesses force informatization departments to comprehensively manage data. Because they are not able to overturn everything, they can only ensure the smooth flow of basic elements in the smart campus system by breaking down barriers, sharing data, and promoting technical applications to serve the university's development.
For Peking University, we need to strengthen planning, resource coordination, and the collaboration between management and technical forces. With the management team coordinating the overall picture, more authority should be delegated to technical practitioners to remove the barriers between management and technology. We should focus on the division of labor and emphasize collaboration, and consider whether it is beneficial to the development of business as the core indicator to measure the pros and cons.
Over the past decade, Peking University has tried many ways to improve our working mechanism in the process of informatization, gradually clarified the functions and responsibilities of informatization departments, and enhanced management and technical collaboration.
At the end of 2018, the Cybersecurity and Informatization Committee of Peking University was established, with the university's Party Secretary and President named as the directors. In April 2019, Peking University aligned with the national cyber information governance systems and established a physical committee office (hereinafter referred to as the Office).
The working mechanism of the Office is as follows: The Office coordinates the whole picture of informatization on behalf of the university, and related departments are responsible for specific business implementation. For example, the computing center is responsible for the development, construction, and O&M of campus networks and information systems. The teacher teaching and development center is responsible for the management and maintenance of the online teaching platform and digital classrooms. The library is responsible for the management of electronic resources and the purchase of e-books and periodicals. Other level-2 departments are responsible for the informatization of their own business according to their respective functions.
The Office focuses on promoting data sharing and coordinating the management and technology. After nearly two years of efforts, we have greatly strengthened departmental collaboration, optimized the platform, organizational structure, and working mechanism. In this way, we have gradually formed a distinguished school affairs data governance system and informatization system.
To solve technical application issues, Peking University takes the lead in using the most advanced data 4.0 process platform in the industry to improve technical level and standards in data governance. To meet requirements of shared management, we build a three-dimensional model of people (X), event (Y), and time (Z) to solve the structure and model-related issues in data sharing.
Three-dimensional data structure starts from understanding the essential relationship between school affairs data and university operation, aligns the data generated by business in each domain and returns the data to better meet business requirements. This structure points out the basic direction for data governance, and finds the basic rules for data modeling. After a year, the data sharing platform has made marked progress. By April 2020, it had integrated large-scale, high-quality, and unified school affairs data (more than 800 million data records in six categories, covering personnel identity, asset and equipment, teaching and scientific research, academic support, administrative operation, and service assurance).
Data governance in universities should not only focus on technologies, but also on understanding the nature of university operations. The essence of a university is knowledge production and knowledge dissemination, which runs through the whole process of university operation. The management, process, and data transfer derived from the production and dissemination of knowledge can be visualized in the process of informatization. This way of presenting information is people-centric, which is conducive to all types of business, such as teaching and scientific research, management, culture inheritance, and social services, as they are people-centric. And business categories are the extension or growth of basic data interactions.
Based on the people and event dimensions (X/Y) and the description of the time variable (Z), the data generated by all campus activities can become visible, known, perceptible, and controllable. Based on this data interaction structure, new technical means can be used to quickly apply new applications in corresponding scenarios. So far, we have completed large-scale data integration and several data analysis applications based on this solution.
The management of school affairs data, which we understand, is essentially a function of university management and operation. It is a process of modifying, improving, or reengineering business processes or authority patterns through the improvement and governance of school affairs information and data. It is manifested as a series of specifications and complete systems.
If we want to ensure the long-term development and normal data governance and sharing on the basis of building a three-dimensional interactive data structure consisting of people, event, and time, a complete institutional system, which should integrate organization and platform, and an effective practice system, which can assure management, technology, and service growth, must be developed. By promoting cross-domain data sharing and application, implementing advanced management ideas, optimizing institutions, and improving capabilities, a strong institutional-practice system can be eventually formed. The mutual promotion of the institutional system and practice system ensures that all data is manageable, controllable, reliable, and available, and that the managed services cover all domains and the whole business process.
In general, in the theoretical community, there is still much disagreement on the attribution of data information, and laws and regulations need to be further formulated and improved. In the current phase of rule adjustment, we need to properly address the relationship between data sharing and protection. In this context, Peking University formulated the Peking University School Affairs Data Management Measures in July 2020 to regulate school affairs data collection and cataloging, sharing, and security assurance, protecting public information resources and personal information rights and interests.
Along with improving the institutions, Peking University has further upgraded the organizational structure. In July 2020, the Peking University School Affairs Data Management Working Group (hereinafter referred to as the Data Group) was established. As the leading execution organization of data governance, the Data Group sets up an office (Data Office) under the leadership of the Cybersecurity and Informatization Committee Office. The Data Group consists of the main heads of functional departments that serve as the main source of school affairs data. It is responsible for planning and developing school affairs data regulations and coordinating related business.
Based on the consensus on joint and shared data governance, cybersecurity and informatization-related departments keep deepening the relationships between management and technologies, business and data, specifications and benefits, inheritance and innovation. They set rules for sharing and coordinating school affairs data, and improve the pilot mechanism for data sharing approval, offering data sharing services for more than 100 business systems to which level-2 departments belong.
The university attaches great importance to data security, and has been strengthening the top-level design and coordination to clarify the main content and responsibility matrix of data security management. By improving management systems, fulfilling security responsibilities, and allocating resources, we control over the security of processes such as data collection, data transmission, data storage, data use, data sharing, data export, and data destruction.
During data governance, Peking University continuously improves data standards, common data element representation, basic data aggregation, and information system design, as well as data exchange, sharing, and interoperability of the basic database in the information system to cater to the ever-growing data sharing demand. Based on new data standards, we further expand data governance capacity and use the people-event-time data model to integrate and sort out data, enriching derivative data such as organizations, business, activities, and transaction records in light of personnel data governance. In this way, we can also preset expansion methods for the ever-increasing volume of data processing.
Data governance in universities should not only focus on technologies, but also on understanding the nature of university operations. The essence of a university is knowledge production and knowledge dissemination, which runs through the whole process of university operation. The management, process, and data transfer derived from the production and dissemination of knowledge can be visualized in the process of informatization. This way of presenting information is people-centric.