Without making the best possible use of Big Data tools, government executives and managers are likely to face immense challenges involving the massive amount of government data — in a Bloomberg Businessweek survey, 81 percent of government managers reported that “Big Data” is crucial for meeting their mission. “Big Data” is not just for businesses, and in this article Research Optimus describes big data government examples and six ways that Big Data can help government organizations to increase effectiveness.
#1 — Crime Prediction and Prevention
Police and other law enforcement professionals are finding that big data can provide the following benefits:
- Faster and better-informed responses to criminal threats
- Better collaboration among multiple national and international agencies
- Improved case clearance rates
- Deeper understanding of persons of interest and crime patterns
Due to the massive volume of unstructured big data, predictive analytics and cross correlation are increasingly required as crime-fighting agencies attempt to identify emerging threats that enable them to anticipate and pre-empt criminal activity. As businesses have discovered in the private sector, a partnership between big data and government can be a winning strategy for improving government effectiveness — such as doing a better job of predicting and preventing crimes.
#2 — National Security and Defense Agencies Utilizing Big Data
Starting in 2009, a big data initiative (Data.gov) for improving transparency has helped government agencies do a better job of designing data visualization, building apps and conducting research. Data.gov harvests and collates metadata from about 275 federal and non-federal agencies involving 44 countries.
With a big helping hand from big data techniques such as these, national security agencies are doing a better job of predicting and preventing terrorism due to big data benefits such as faster response and collaboration, finding the dots and connecting them, updating the database and achieving better understanding of a potential target area.
#3 — Big Data in Government Social and Healthcare Programs
Big data in the public sector often involves learning valuable lessons from the private sector. For example, private healthcare organizations have discovered that big data can help measurably with efforts to reduce costs and detect fraud. Social and healthcare programs in developed countries such as Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States are demonstrating big data benefits such as these:
- Improving the ability of healthcare programs to work within limited budgets
- Identifying potential abuse and fraud by both providers and individual users
- Reducing overpayments
- Speeding up payments of social and healthcare benefits
- Enabling real-time monitoring analysis
- Detecting signs of social problems and the need for services
- Preventing chronic diseases by monitoring data
#4 — Revenue Collection and Management
As is the case with cost effective business analytics in the private sector, big data in the private sector can help to identify financial inefficiencies for government tax organizations — key examples include unpaid taxes, waste and fraud. The public sector has been particularly vulnerable to shrinking budgets during recent years, and big data can help governments to survive during the “dry years” of reduced revenues.
Big data benefits for government tax authorities include reducing financial abuses, saving taxpayer dollars and minimizing the tax gap. For example, the ability to identify fraudulent tax returns by cyber criminals (often located in other countries) helps to save money and reduce identity theft.
# 5 — Transportation
As populations increase throughout the world, big data is helping transportation managers cope with both passive analysis of data as well as how to develop innovative transport solutions for the future. Government transportation challenges often represent an intimidating combination of datasets — for example, volume, speeds, road tolls, road conditions, congestion and interconnecting traffic networks. Without big data, managing public transportation would undoubtedly become a “logistics nightmare” that would in turn create headaches on both a local and national level.
In a trend that mirrors the increasing interconnectivity throughout the world, approximately 80 percent of vehicles in North America and Europe are expected to be “connected” by 2018. This will facilitate an increasing amount of big data in “real time” — especially important to an enhanced role for big data and government in transportation.
# 6 — Environmental Stewardship
As concerns grow about doing a better job of coping with environmental changes, big data is already on the job in many places. Open data efforts by the U.S. government include a focus on new ecosystems, climate change and oceans. Relative to other big data and government opportunities, environmental stewardship is still a “work in progress” in many locales due to the difficulty of coordinating efforts among national and international agencies.
However, big data tools are already heavily relied upon by environmental agencies and managers for data collection and analysis. In an area that can be controversial and subject to political disagreements about the role of government, big data provides the realistic potential to serve as an “objective arbiter” for many environmental debates — often by facilitating greater specificity when analyzing complicated relationships between environmental issues like forests and pollution.
Making Better Use of Big Data
Whether “Big Data” is employed by the public or private sectors, transformative change will always involve overcoming obstacles. For example, “data governance” refers to the need to determine the overall management of data in an organization — without sound data governance that addresses issues like integrity and security of data, the promise and potential of “Big Data” can be drastically reduced.
You will need innovative employees and managers to fulfill big data initiatives — and research and analytics experts such as Research Optimus are likely to be indispensable in meeting the complex challenges of big data.
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– Research Optimus