The Rhode Island Longitudinal Data System (RILDS, f.k.a. RI DataHUB) integrates and links data across sectors and over time to support research aligned with the state’s priorities, inform policymaking and program evaluation, and improve the well-being of all Rhode Islanders. In short, RILDS is the state repository for linked, inter-agency, longitudinal data.
It centralizes three-plus decades of previously siloed Rhode Island state education, employment, and health data using a custom-built machine learning algorithm.
The RILDS Center was founded in 1992, with the goal to inform, empower and inspire innovative decision-making. For 30-plus years, it has been assisting policymakers in state and local governments, community leaders in nonprofit organizations, and academic researchers across the country.
Rhode Island began the development of its statewide longitudinal data system in 2009. In leveraging funding from the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug-Free Schools grant and State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grant, Rhode Island committed to building an statewide integrated, longitudinal data system. State leadership identified a local Rhode Island non-profit, the Providence Plan (ProvPlan), as the ideal intermediary to centralize and analyze data for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Rhode Island another SLDS grant, and the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Rhode Island its first Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grant, allowing further development and enhancement of the system. The ProvPlan’s DataSpark team operated the RILDS, then known as the Rhode Island DataHUB, from 2009 through 2017.
In February 2017, the University of Rhode Island formally acquired DataSpark and the RI DataHUB, and the Contributing Agencies consented to this acquisition. DataSpark operated as program unit of the University Libraries for six years. In June 2023, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed Governor McKee’s proposal to institutionalize and invest in RIILDS.
The Rhode Island Longitudinal Data System Act formalizes and expands data governance structures, more closely integrating this decision-making resource into Rhode Island’s state government. It renames the Rhode Island DataHUB to RILDS, DataSpark to the RILDS Center, and relocates both from the University of Rhode Island to the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC). This move centers the RILDS within the Contributing Agencies’ existing partnership structure, and since OPC supports all three public higher education institutions, strengthens partnerships between the RILDS Center and state researchers. RILDS is a mature, robust P20W+ (early learning through workforce and beyond) system.
From our founding, we have committed to data use for public good. In practice, this commitment means all RILDS data requests must benefit the people, policies, and programs of Rhode Island.
We recognize that systemic, structural inequality is the direct result of exclusionary policies. We engage critically with the power structures embedded in our data and challenge ourselves to center Rhode Islanders' experiences throughout the data lifecycle.
As an organization entrusted with sensitive data, the RILDS Center prioritizes data privacy and security. We honor the Rhode Islanders represented in the rows and columns through our ethical, lawful, secure use of their data.
Collaboration is essential to the successful operation of a P-20W+ data system like RILDS. We collaborate with each other and our partners to explore, analyze, and visualize data.
We democratize data, publishing products whenever possible, so that all Rhode Islanders can know, first and foremost, how their data are being used and secondly, the implications of the policy or program under examination.
We collaborate with Contributing Agencies to improve data quality. These durable partnerships, built over decades of cooperation, ensure accurate interpretation of and appropriate use of the data throughout its lifecycle.
We examine data to discover trends and findings that are useful to decision makers and the general public. Our services include processing large datasets, linking different sources of data together and transforming data into descriptive statistics and information products. We support federal and state reporting.
We partner with researchers from across the country to conduct pioneering research and to evaluate state programs. Under strict privacy and security requirements and with approval of Contributing Agencies, we can release RILDS data.
We produce everything from traditional long-form reports and presentation slides to cutting-edge interactive dashboards. Whether a data story, infographic, or map, these visualizations distill complex information into insights, shed light on critical policy issues, and promote evidence-based decision-making.