One Of Our Own: Lloyd Thiessen, Database Guru
It was Lloyd Thiessen, in his current role with the Lands/ENR/ITI Informatics Shared Services Division, who built the system that made sure all those who submitted had their say.
Thiessen, generally acknowledged as one of the GNWT’s foremost authorities on databases, signed on to work with the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development in 1999.
His original role was not building databases but he soon discovered an un-met need for effective tracking – a task he felt could be filled by customized databases. “I basically started building databases because people asked if certain things could be done. “I found myself saying ‘yes, we could do that’,” he recalls. While he took some courses with the Academy of Learning, in the early 90’s, but is largely self-taught.
While the Mineral Resources Act database isn’t the first he’s built, it is, as he explains, the most robust.
“There were far more variables to track than in any other database I’ve done,” says Thiessen. “Ultimately, the records-keeping team wanted to go above-and-beyond when it came to tracking stakeholder groups, the sentiment from various individual meetings — and so on. We had to build a database to handle it all.”
It wasn’t easy. It required translating many differing priorities — things like what to track, how to balance the desire to collect information with the need to make engaging easy, and how to set-up reporting — in a single database which could be used by a small army of ITI staff engaging with residents, stakeholders, and other governments.
Thiessen also integrated the database with the email used to communicate with stakeholders. This meant all incoming and outgoing communications could be immediately logged — streamlining the records-keeping process considerably and reducing the chance of data loss.
All the information collected in Thiessen’s database is now being analyzed and considered in the GNWT’s ongoing work towards the creation of a new Mineral Resources Act for the NWT.
Meanwhile Lloyd is on to his next project – and yet another data base