State and local governments have come a long way when it comes to acquiring and using big data. For example, local governments in Australia are already using predictive analytics in their tax fraud department and emergency response services, helping to save both taxpayers’ money and lives.
But this is only the beginning. Big data and government agencies are teaming up to help agencies run more efficiently and better serve constituents at all levels. What does that mean for information sharing and transparency in the digital age?
Thanks to recent technological advancements, government agencies are now leveraging big data insights in a variety of innovative ways. With increased requirements on top of flat or declining budgets, they are looking to do more with less—and a path of digital transformation can help them get there.
Along the way, government agencies are modernizing their data warehouses, optimizing their enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, and commoditizing their storage. However, some of them don’t necessarily have the real estate for large data centers, so they may wish to consider the benefits that a cloud solution can provide. Ultimately, most governments will aim to store, marry, and analyze structured and unstructured data so they can maximize its value.
Of course, this data may exist in varied formats. There could be perfectly structured data, such as first and last names that are stored in agency databases, for example. But there’s also a growing array of unstructured data, such as video from traffic cameras and telemetry data from sensors and images. Government agencies realize that they must have the flexibility to obtain information from both structured and unstructured data to provide predictive analytics capabilities. In this way, they will be able to maximize this new opportunity to better serve their constituents, while operating as efficiently as possible at the same time.
The public sector is capitalizing on the potential of big data in intriguing ways. State transportation departments use toll and traffic analytics to generate revenue, leveraging the data to better understand traffic patterns, while reducing IT costs through automation. Other agencies are leading the way, too: The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), whose mission is to restore, protect, and manage the state’s natural, historical, and cultural resources for future generations, has been a notable pioneer in its approach to big data.
Many agencies in California look to the CNRA for information on specific resources and other assets that exist within state lines. In response, the CNRA has created a shared service in the form of a data lake to compile all that information. This shared resource provides insights and analytics to the CNRA’s stakeholders and other users, as well as to the public. The CNRA has achieved remarkable success with this initiative in just a short period of time. After an initial project like this is off and running, government agencies tend to get more creative requests and ideas for continued expansion. So as the CNRA continues to provide additional value and add more capabilities, the use cases and requirements it supports will likely expand as well.
Such endeavors often begin—as they did at the CNRA—with a priority of sharing information. State and local governments increasingly want to make data visible, accessible, and useful to the various users, stakeholders, and citizens they serve. Once they begin sharing this data in innovative and transparent ways, even more exciting opportunities for using that information tend to emerge.
The timing surrounding this push toward greater transparency is not coincidental, of course. Citizens and consumers are pressuring governments to deliver better customer experiences with their tax dollars. At the same time, a wider array of publishers, such as cameras and other edge devices, have arrived on the network, bringing with them the possibility of even more comprehensive data insights. These two developments have radically shifted the relationship between governments and their constituents. As a result, government agencies are making a conscious effort to take inventory, evaluate what they have, and define where they want to go.
This drive toward more transparency in government can be observed at all levels. A number of broad U.S. federal initiatives focused on data sharing and collaboration are in place. One such example is Data.gov, which provides a central clearinghouse for federal open data. Meanwhile, state agencies in the U.S. are also looking to leverage investments and share lessons learned with each other. Each entity could be sharing weather data, traffic patterns, and other types of information that can help their counterparts build upon this wealth of data. And ultimately, the sum is greater than its parts.
The combination of big data and government can deliver impressive results for constituents. By tapping the insights within their data—and sharing the information with relevant stakeholders—the public sector is raising the bar on government transparency and improving customer experience for taxpayers. With many government agencies striving for greater digital transformation, we can expect big data initiatives to play an increasingly central role in their efforts to modernize citizen services for the information age.
Learn more about how the public sector is using big data to increase transparency and maximize the value of predictive analytics.