For several years, HHS leaders have recognized the value of sharing data among state and local agencies and departments to improve overall case management. “No single area of innovation promises as much public value as the rapidly evolving areas that allow government officials to utilize data across agency and IT silos,” says Stephen Goldsmith, former deputy mayor of New York and mayor of Indianapolis, now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Big data’s generating a lot of buzz these days — or is it hype? One thing’s for certain — big data is everywhere, and governments are no exception. Most governments collect and have access to as much, if not more data, than the private sector. The National Institutes of Health, for example, can access five million pictures of tumors. How many private healthcare institutions can make that claim?
Big data isn’t a magic bullet — those are in short supply — but it presents very real opportunities to transform public service by driving dramatic improvements to both citizen-facing services and internal workflow. Federal, state and local governments alike are sitting on a treasure trove of information, but often don’t know what to do with it or how to use it.
In their ongoing quest to improve efficiencies and services while lowering costs, governments are mining this data for actionable insights that can help them make better business decisions. But procuring an off-the-shelf analytics product and connecting it to a departmental database or application won’t always deliver Big Data’s real value. Many analytics efforts that only take into account information from a single department will deliver results in a vacuum.
Government leaders have a vision for transforming public service, and big data is a strategic part of it. However, turning that vision into reality to deliver tangible value for the government enterprise is easier said than done. It shouldn’t be that difficult: after all, big data is an existing asset; it simply needs to be leveraged to yield insights.