The far-reaching effects of big data in government
Most of the attention given to big data solutions has been toward its application in the commerce sector. Retailers, marketers and even pharmaceutical manufacturers have found success deploying data analytics programs. The potential for big data has a far greater reach than those implementations, however. With their wealth of information covering a truly massive range of subjects, federal government agencies would gain significant and meaningful insight if they began applying data analytics software to these huge datasets. Some agencies have already begun to leverage big data tools to their benefit.
Enhancing government operations
According to Wired, several governmental bodies, both within the United States and overseas, have found success using data analytics software in their operations. Within the U.S. government, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has deployed a big data program that provides the nation's taxpayers with financial reports that can be accessed with mobile devices, allowing them to view important data at any time. The South African government, meanwhile, has applied data analytics software to information gathered through its national census program. Officials are reportedly using these tools to parse meaningful trends from the data to help guide policy decisions.
For a topic that has engendered some confusion over its exact applications, big data has actually helped some government agencies elucidate operations and directly benefit taxpayer-funded programs. For instance, the Juvenile Welfare Board in Pinellas County, Florida, has used big data software to show constituents how property taxes impact the lives of children receiving assistance from the agency.
Cracking the big data gold mine
Analyst Tim Byers explained that, by opening up their vast reserves of data, government agencies would be providing an incredible resource for further research and innovation, Forbes reported. Byers cited several past instances in which the release of information gathered by the government led to widespread application, including geographic positioning systems and weather data. By using big data and Hadoop-based software tools to analyze information gathered by government agencies, researchers could potentially find solutions to a number of issues in the country.
For instance, insights gleaned from weather, soil conditions and other environmental factors could be used to optimize agricultural production. Governmental data could also be used to aid numerous energy conservation and management initiatives, including programs to build smart cities. Data analytics teams are continuously finding new applications for the technology. With access to government-gathered data, their research could lead to monumental breakthroughs.
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