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Author's profile photo Dante Ricci

Data Is Your Most Valuable Government Asset—So How Will You Harness It?

Governments at all levels face seemingly overwhelming challenges today—from exploding costs and aging infrastructure to education and healthcare inequities. And at the center of these challenges are citizens whose lives governments are responsible for protecting and improving and whose tax dollars must be spent wisely.

Doing this effectively in the digital age takes putting citizens at the center of a comprehensive data strategy that provides a 360-degree view of each situation. Viewed from this perspective, data has become government’s most valuable asset.

A recent Analyst Connection paper by IDC, “The Strategic Value of Big Data and Analytics in the Public Sector,” notes that governments around the world are already finding that “real gains in insights occur when data from multiple agencies can be combined through open platforms and analyzed through advanced analytics to derive new insights and findings.” The paper cites several real-world examples:

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) built a dashboard that integrates multiple data sets, including safety data received from states. Overlaid with railroad crossings, zip codes, and census data, the dashboard enables DOT to visualize heavy-traffic areas with high numbers of accidents and fatalities, pedestrian accidents, and hazmat spills and to storyboard the causes. This has allowed DOT to, for example, correlate instances of snow from January to March with instances of auto accidents and rates of pedestrian and bike accidents during periods of less daylight.
  • The state of Indiana is using Big Data and analytics to tackle infant mortality and drug abuse. They built a dashboard and began gathering data from law enforcement and public health agencies. Now Indiana can visualize data by creating geospatial maps, color-coordinated line graphs with trend data, and even a time-lapse map that shows how the drug epidemic has evolved over time. The team can also identify hotspots and determine the best way to allocate resources to combat the problem.
  • The city of Buenos Aires combines the power of analytics with modern LED fixtures to enable smart street lighting. The system provides the city with real-time insight into power outages, broken lights, and vandalism. The city can also track installation speed and contractor information in real time, saving on maintenance costs and ensuring that issues are fixed quickly.

Powering Outcomes Through Analytics

But to realize outcomes like these, you need more than good intentions and siloed departmental efforts. It requires investment in new kinds of data management and analytics solutions that provide total transparency by eliminating data silos; deliver instant, data-driven insights; and help you visualize new outcomes for society.

To achieve total transparency, you’ll need solutions that provide:

  • Real-time, 360-degree reporting without data duplication
  • A single, unified reporting environment
  • Content from different business areas aligned on a single semantic model
  • Scalability—up to thousands of models (for example, models to prevent fraud, waste and abuse)
  • Tools to measure outcomes and engage citizens

Similarly, to gain instant, data-driven insights, you’ll need:

  • The power to answer ad hoc questions on the fly
  • Tools to analyze root causes and identify risks and opportunities to improve the community
  • Simulations of the impact of potential decisions on operations, programs, and budgets
  • The ability to leverage new insights to execute on policy objectives

And to visualize new outcomes for society, you’ll need to invest in ways to:

  • Empower policymakers and analysts with better data access and deeper, real-time insights
  • Sense, predict, and act in real time to protect citizens from security threats, health hazards, and natural disasters
  • Anticipate and drive better policy outcomes with predictive analytics

So, where do you see opportunities to harness your data to solve problems and improve the lives of citizens?

I encourage you to read the IDC paper in depth. It provides valuable insights into what’s possible when you apply advanced analytics to your data, the barriers to doing so and how to overcome them, and lessons learned from government executives who have gone before you.

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