Project Objective: Create software to transmit and provide secure, real-time data access to software vendors for schools in New York state.
Project Background: School districts are continually adding new applications for assessment, instruction and administration to make school operations more efficient. In fact, the Software and Information Industry Association reports more than 3,500 applications for K-12 alone. But maintaining multiple data systems with multiple sign-ons is cumbersome, time-consuming, and costly.
When the New York State Legislature passed Common Core Implementation Reform legislation that strengthened the state’s data-protection practices and requirements, Joe Fitzgerald, assistant director at the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center (LHRIC), knew they needed a streamlined solution. The Lower Hudson Regional Information Center is one of 12 Regional Information Centers (RICs) in New York State, which support IT initiatives in more than 700 school districts. Fitzgerald’s solution would benefit all of them. His goal was to create a secure data hub that would provide simple, secure integration between student information systems and administrative and instructional applications. Such a program would improve and simplify school operations while ensuring the privacy of sensitive student data.
The Challenge: Fitzgerald chose Troy Web Consulting to contribute key components to the project. The result was RICone.org, which provides fast, simple and secure integration between a district’s student information system and multiple applications. RIC One has its own Application Programming Interface (API), which allows it to link different systems together in one interface with a single login. In the near future, RIC One will integrate HR and assessment systems, as well. In addition, Troy Web helped Fitzgerald’s team create a data privacy and security website, which provides tools to help school districts meet data privacy and security challenges. Services provided by these websites are available to school districts across New York and include a fully automated data integration solution.
For New York State’s school districts, RIC One means districts are in control of their data while it’s in the custody of their RICs.
For vendors, RIC One means authorized education solutions can exchange data through a trusted and secure source, enabling vendor applications to connect to school districts using one interface.
Currently, more than 700 New York state school districts serving more than 1.5 million students have access to RIC One.
“We are driven by what is required locally, but we’re able to share data across the state,” Fitzgerald says. “We are a public agency governed by our local districts. So while RIC One is a statewide effort, it is controlled locally by each school district in the 12 regions. We are not the state; we are our districts.”
Fitzgerald says RIC One is a “game-changer” for New York state schools and that its ability for a district to control the security and privacy of student data sets RIC One apart from similar services.
Business Impact: After its implementation, RIC One was recognized by Access 4 Learning (A4L), a non-profit collaboration of school districts, states, software vendors and consultants that addresses learning information management and access. In 2016, A4L adopted the RIC One API as a national and international web standard, based on its underlying technologies and Internet protocols.
“The fact that the RIC One API is now considered a web standard for use around the world means our program is sophisticated,” Fitzgerald says. “It’s a big deal.” Jon Briccetti, CEO of Troy Web Consulting, agrees.
“RIC One is a leading-edge product, and while we can’t take all the credit for it, we’re happy to have played an important role in its development,” Briccetti says.