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How the Government Leverages Big Data

Big Data Use Cases in the Federal Government

The Rise of Big Data in Government

There’s a reason big data has become such a widespread initiative throughout industries: it’s flexible, and it has a wide range of valuable applications. In the government, in particular, proper mining and analysis of big data can have a significant positive impact on a local, national and even global level when harnessed properly (Datafloq). There are a great deal of problems governments face, but there’s an opportunity to use information to make decisions that benefit operations and improve the lives of citizens.

A study conducted by the University of Kansas, which surveyed 65 mid-size and large cities, was focused on learning how the public sector is making use of big data. It was determined that big data has made it possible to change the time span of the decision-making cycle by allowing real-time analysis of data to instantly inform leaders charged with making important decisions, and this paradigm shift is being applied to a variety of areas in government, including:

  • Citizen engagement
  • Program management
  • Strategic planning
  • Situational awareness
  • Budgeting
  • Performance reporting (Government Executive)

Today, big data has become critical to governments worldwide. While it’s not a cure-all, it has the potential to give leaders the required tools to impact positive change, benefitting countries, states and municipalities, as well as their citizens.

5 Ways the Government Uses Big Data

Generally speaking, big data can help the government identify areas that need improvement or attention, but it also enables the ability to view information in real time, as particular events are unfolding—this capability is vital given the fast-paced, technology-reliant society we operate within today. Ultimately, it makes fast decision making, monitoring and efficient changes possible.

Let’s review a few general areas the government can positively impact by using big data:

  • Education

Improving education is an ongoing government initiative. Big data can help governments better understand educational needs, locally and federally, to make certain that the nation’s youth has access to the resources needed to learn.

  • Transportation

From traffic congestion to public transit and driver safety, there are a great deal of facets to be considered when it comes to transportation. It’s not easy to control the many variables that can compromise safety, including weather, roads and law enforcement. Big data, however, does make it easier for governments to observe trends in transportation that inform decision making around creating better and new routes and safer roadways.

  • Healthcare

Resource allocation can be a difficult issue when it comes to healthcare. Using big data, governments have the opportunity to gain greater visibility into the management of healthcare funds and consequently, better control over resources. It also makes it possible to better understand the healthcare needs of citizens and provide better, more cost effective services.

  • Poverty

Poverty isn’t easy to fight, but big data gives us the power to enhance our efforts. Using big data, governments have greater wherewithal to find innovative tactics for decreasing poverty, as well as identify the areas with the greatest need.

  • Agriculture

Keeping track of land and livestock is no easy feat. The vast numbers of crops grown and animals are difficult for the government to monitor, which makes supporting farmers, as well as their resources, equally difficult. However, big data brings the opportunity to gather and analyze information to determine the best ways to manage agriculture.

Real-World Big Data Use Cases

The information above demonstrates that the government has many touch points with its citizens which can be positively impacted by leveraging big data and big data solutions. Let’s take a look at a couple of real-world examples in which big data and big data analytics is making an impact on government operations:

1. Healthcare: San Bernardino County utilizes data management and advanced analytics to improve careThe San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health uses big data in an effort to combat behavioral health disorders. They’ve collected data about its programs and their adoption, ultimately gaining the ability to draw conclusions about how to offer the best care and assistance to patients.

2. Smart city/smart energy: Envision America, the City of Charlotte, Duke Energy and UNC Charlotte harness big data to reduce energy consumption

The above Charlotte-based entities came together with 61 of Charlotte’s downtown high-rises, gathered information about energy costs and consumption levels, and ultimately came up with a plan that reduced energy by 17.2% and generated $18 million in savings (SAS).

3. Cybersecurity: Using big data for cybersecurity purposes if of a more classified nature, but it’s an incredibly valuable use case for all federal agencies. With privacy and security being primary concerns within the government, collecting the vast amounts of data being generated by endpoints is one way to combat potential threats. Here’s just a few ways big data can be used for cybersecurity (Dataconomy):

  • Intrusion detection
  • Employee activity monitoring
  • Combating cyberthreats in the future

How Can Your Agency Use Big Data to Create Change?

Every government agency has the power to create a big data analytics program that will bring insights with the potential to vastly improve operations and benefit citizens—it’s just a matter of classifying the data you’re collecting and finding the right tools and technology to guide analysis and decision making.

Need some pointers on how to collect and analyze the data being generated at your organization? August Schell is here to help you find your way. If you’re in search of guidance on big data, get in touch with us today, or call us at (301)-838-9470.