The Senate Committee on Rules and Judiciary last week approved legislation the would reinvigorate the Virgin Islands Virtual Information System (VIVIS), an initiative first established under the John deJongh administration in 2013.
The measure re-establishes the VIVIS within the V.I. Department of Education (D.O.E.), providing for new protocols regarding personal information, approved data uses, and maintaining the confidentiality and distribution of data. The VIVIS was put in place back in 2013 at a cost of more than $2.6 million, but according to school officials, has large gaps in its data.
“We need a depository for the data. We cannot manage what we can’t measure. Data collected will assist in making informed decisions where it is applicable,” said Sen. Janelle Sarauw, chair of the Rules Committee and one of the sponsors of the bill. The other sponsor is Sen. Donna Frett Gregory and Sen. Stedman Hodge, Jr. is a co-sponsor.
Reuben Molloy, deputy commissioner of the Department of Health said the VIVIS is essential to have access to data on social determinants of health, critical to the effective planning of health promotion and prevention programs.
Noreen Michael, research director at the University of the Virgin Islands, indicated that quarterly updates on challenges should be required, assigning an identifier to each record is necessary, and identifying a steady funding source are key to the success of VIVIS.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the VIDOE with a grant totaling $2.6 million to develop VIVIS in conjunction with an Early Childhood Integrated System. The Early Childhood Integrated System is slated to collect, store, and report data on children beginning from birth up to eight years old, according to Michal Rhymer-Brown, Assistant Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.
Sen. Javan James security is vital if the system is to have real value.
“It is about time that we are up to par with digitizing the government which is already implemented on the mainland. My concern is ensuring that cybersecurity is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, if the system is hacked, the enemy will have access to a lot of sensitive information,” Sen. James said.
The VIVIS legislation approved by the Rules and Judiciary Committee is recorded as Bill No. 33-0189 — An Act amending Title 3, chapter 7 of the Virgin Islands Code.
Separately, policymakers voted and approved the following:
The following was held in committee at the call of the chair: