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Big Data in Government: An Overview

November 26, 2012

This is the first in a series of blogs that will explore the role of big data in government.

Government’s huge variety of responsibilities including defense, national security, social programs, taxation, environmental stewardship and much more, both require and generate massive amounts of data. The volume, variety and velocity of this data are increasing at a rapid pace. The ability of government to manage this big data is critical to the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and therefore to the health, safety and security of the populations they serve.

In this series, I will cover:

  • What big data is in a government context
  • How it can be used to improve government operations and efficiency
  • How technology can be used to harness big data

For this first post, I’d like to introduce an important report that was recently produced called “Demystifying Big Data – A Practical Guide to Transforming the Business of Government.” It was produced by the TechAmerica Foundation, a U.S.-based technology trade organization, which assembled a Big Data Commission, co-chaired by IBM Senior Vice President and Group Executive Steve Mills, and included members from a variety of private and public companies and institutions.

The TechAmerica Foundation Big Data Commission’s mandate was to “demystify the term ‘big data’ by defining its characteristics, describe the key business outcomes it will serve, and provide a framework for policy discussion.” The Commission’s report sets out to identify important areas of focus that can help government agencies “fast track” their big data projects.

The report contains the following five chapters, and is well worth reading:

  1. Big Data Definition & Business/Mission Value
  2. Big Data Case Studies
  3. Technical Underpinnings
  4. The Path Forward: Getting Started
  5. Public Policy

I will be moderating a free webcast about this report on Wednesday, December 5, at 1:00pm ET. Speakers include Jennifer Kerber, President of the TechAmerica Foundation, and Tim Paydos, Director of IBM's Government Information Agenda Team.

The webcast will cover the following areas:

  • IBM’s point of view on big data in government
  • Opportunities big data represents to transform government
  • Key findings from the Big Data Commission Report
  • Best practices and lessons learned from early efforts
  • Policy recommendations and practical steps to get started on big data initiatives

Register for the webcast

Download the Big Data Commission Report