Big data in government: How data and analytics drive public programs

Ask a child what they want to do for a living, and the answer typically falls into two categories: Something incredibly exciting (astronaut, athlete or singer) or something to help others (firefighter, police officer or teacher).

No child says they just want a paycheck. As adults, people work for a variety of reasons – a paycheck manager among them – but many government employees have deeper motives. Government work provides a chance to help the public or provide services that provide a real benefit to the lives of citizens.

Much of this public work is done using big data and analysis. Why? Because use analytics can improve the performance of public programs.

Using big data and analytics to make meaningful change

Every 15 minutes, a person in the United States dies from opioid abuse. The federal government has called the opioid epidemic a national emergency, and many states have also declared public health crisis situations for additional means to help address the problem.

Data shows that every county in the United States has seen an increase in opioid-related deaths. By combining this information with demographics, it is clear that the opioid crisis continues to grow in rural areas with lower incomes and higher unemployment rates.

For example, a map of Virginia showed that the counties around Washington D.C. saw a slight increase in opioid deaths in the last decade, while counties in rural southwest Virginia along the Appalachian Mountains saw surprising growth.

“With this type of data, the government can more directly target specific areas for treatment, but also see what types of areas may be affected in the future,” said Steve Kearney, medical director of SAS’s US government practice. “There are lots of solutions that can show what happened. What analytics can do, though, is pick up on trends that predict what will happen in the future. That way, changes can be made to limit the problem. “

How? Using big data and analysis can help federal and state agencies implement opioid avoidance programs in these areas – from community education to targeting physicians who over-prescribe drugs – to make real changes.

Big data governance: Where there is data, there are solutions

Preventing the abuse of opioids is just one area where data and analysis are strengthening authority. Big data and analytics can be applied to almost any public program to deliver tangible results, including:

  • Emergency reaction. Analytics has been used in response to major natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan to identify health issues, coordinate thousands of displaced people and prevent water shortage issues. Recently, after Hurricane Maria, analytics were used to identify areas of need and to more efficient resource allocation.
  • Laundering of money. Analytics is used to prevent money laundering and financial crimes that directly affect terrorist organizations or unfriendly foreign governments that use illegal economic activities to fund their operations.
  • Insider Threats. Using analytics to detect anomalies and irregular behaviors, agencies can greatly reduce the amount of data being leaked or stolen. This helps prevent fraud and cybercrime, draining money and resources that could otherwise be used for programs to help citizens.
  • Workforce efficiency. Agencies can better understand the workforce gaps that can develop when employees either retire or travel to the private sector. By ensuring that new employees can fill in the gaps, and by introducing ways to retain employees, agencies can continue to function effectively.

Big data and analytics provide a huge benefit to the public sector. In addition, analyzes improve outcomes that have a direct impact on citizens. Whether fighting a nationwide drug problem, responding to a local disaster, protecting against loss of sensitive information or intellectual property, or simply making the government more efficient, the analytical insight you can get from your big data stores, a difference.

For more information on areas where analytics make an impact, visit ours Data for good page.

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