The Challenges to Using Data Analytics in Government
Government agencies face several technical and managerial challenges when it comes to data analytics. As a KPMG video notes, that includes developing and maintaining citizens’ trust in data analytics and private and secure data. Citizens are likely to be more willing to give sensitive and useful data to governments that use analytics to deliver better services.
Governments must determine which kinds of data they actually need, an IBM white paper notes. “For many analytical tasks, such as measuring program effectiveness and constituent segmentation, internal data could be all the agency needs,” the white paper states. “But for others, such as fraud detection and revenue projection, data from outside the agency is essential for maximum effectiveness.”
Additionally, the quality and accessibility of data is a key challenge. Many agencies have legacy data storage in management platforms that are not set up for modern, advanced data analytics. Agencies need to modernize their platforms and can do so via cloud-based tools.
Stovepipe data systems that do not communicate with each other also remain a challenge. “The current trend is to implement integrated systems during major modernization efforts or to build bridges by using master data management tools to get a single view of the citizen,” the IBM white paper notes.
Yet another challenge is the skills gap. Agencies need to invest in hiring and training data scientists to effectively analyze all of the data they are collecting.
How Government Can Effectively Use Big Data Analysis
Thankfully, there are a wide range of commercial partners agencies work with to help them overcome these challenges, especially technical data management ones. These include IBM, Qlik, Microsoft and Splunk.
As the IBM white paper notes, there are a variety of data analytics tools that can determine “who is who, who knows who and who has a family or business relationship with whom.” These can help fight identity theft and establish connections between different entities.
Visualization tools can show data analysis results in charts and graphs and on maps. Unstructured data analysis tools can rifle through video files, social media, Internet of Things sensor readings and other data to “identify those of interest to the agency or to dig deeper in the process of working a case on an individual citizen or business,” the white paper notes.
Cognitive analysis tools based on artificial intelligence “provide for advanced analysis of both structured and unstructured data based on machine learning and intelligence that becomes smarter the more it is applied to the problem,” IBM states.
State and local governments have clear opportunities to use data analytics to improve the lives of the constituents they serve. However, they also clearly face challenges in using such tools. By overcoming these obstacles, agencies can take full advantage of the power of Big Data.