8 Benefits of Big Data for State and Local Governments

From transparency to productivity, Big Data promises improvements for governments.

What potential does Big Data hold for governments? By tackling their Big Data challenges and using analytics to unlock key information, agencies can realize a variety of benefits, from improving the way they already utilize IT to discovering new services and capabilities.

Big Data technologies allow groups to play out scenarios under controlled circumstances, customize what-if planning to different organizations, support data-backed decision-making, identify correlations and trends in underlying data and more. By laying the foundation for effective use of Big Data, agencies can:

1. Make better decisions more quickly

By identifying trends and other insights locked in Big Data, agencies improve their decision-making. By doing it with streaming analytics tools and other technologies to process data generated in real time, the decisions come more quickly. Without these tools and technologies, decision-makers may revert back to merely guessing or decision avoidance altogether.

2. Improve mission outcomes

Big Data brings with it the ability to predict results and model scenarios based on the data.

3. Identify and reduce inefficiencies

By working through Big Data, organizations can see where they are taking unnecessary steps, based on the data their processes generate.

4. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse

By identifying inefficiencies, organizations can wring out internal waste. Depending on their missions, agencies can also potentially identify and eliminate fraud and abuse by the people or parties they serve or monitor.

5. Improve productivity

With the right tools, even nontechnical users can work with large data sets to find information, deliver better services or make decisions that support the mission.

6. Boost ROI, cut total cost of ownership (TCO)

At its heart, Big Data solutions are about making better use of the data that IT systems generate, and by extension improving the return on those IT investments. By potentially consolidating data silos and analytics tools, agencies can reduce the TCO for their infrastructures.

7. Enhance transparency and service

Proper handling and processing of Big Data allows agencies to make data available not only to public- and private-sector partners, but also to the public. This enables citizens to understand what information the government collects. Processing and sharing Big Data also allows agencies to offer information as a service, whether it’s online tax records, census information, weather data or more.

8. Reduce security threats and crime

Analyzing Big Data is key to helping police, homeland security officials, intelligence analysts and others pinpoint patterns and other hidden information to help identify specific threats.

In April 2012, federal agencies were required to detail their strategies for using Big Data. In developing their plans, agencies made public hundreds of thousands of data sets, covering auto safety, air travel, air quality, workplace safety, drug safety, nutrition, crime, obesity, employment and healthcare. They are using this data to improve their operations.

For example, in fiscal 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services made $64.8 billion in improper payments (down from roughly $66 billion in 2011). As part of its Open Government Plan 2.0, the department says it will exploit Big Data to analyze related data sets for information on healthcare expenditures, services and the cost of care in communities around the country.

On the local level, the city of Boston will use data collected from users’ smartphones as part of its Street Bump project to create a map of road conditions around the city. This data will provide greater accuracy for repaving initiatives and will save the city more than $100,000 in survey costs.

For more information, download our Proactive Planning for Big Data white paper.

<p>Digital Vision/Thinkstock</p>
May 30 2013