Insights in 5 with Jen Q. Public: Key takeaways from the public sector track

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics was awash with insightful quotes yesterday as all of us attending IBM Insight 2015 shared our takeaways from the keynote addresses and sessions. Keep reading to discover the five most memorable conversations I encountered while covering the public sector track.

1. Collaborate for disaster response

When storms increase in number and in magnitude, many emergency management and disaster preparedness officials wonder to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. The partnership between IBM and The Weather Company is thus particularly important, especially in the wake of the torrential rains and widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane on record—and not least because reports out of Mexico indicate zero fatalities from the storm and a successful emergency response. With the help of IBM, The Weather Company ingests 40 TB of data each day, continuously mapping the atmosphere of the entire globe to enable intelligent decision making whatever the weather.

In particular, weather intelligence such as that provided by The Weather Company allows citizens to respond proactively and effectively to adverse weather conditions. What’s more, the partnership between IBM and the Weather Company is welcoming a new collaborator—the American Red Cross. Thanks to this new partnership, citizens can prepare themselves for disasters—for example, by receiving tornado alerts even before sirens sound. There’s no more direct application of weather analytics than this, and none more welcome.


2. See through the eyes of Watson

Though IBM Watson may struggle to interpret sarcasm, it is making great strides in learning how to "see". Thanks to Watson, clinicians—indeed, healthcare professionals generally—will be able to visualize data “to find key patterns quickly and precisely.” Considering what analytics has brought to the corporate world, we can only hope that analytics will enhance healthcare in similarly profound ways.


3. Transform the learning experience through analytics

Students are a trove of data, whether we’re recording test scores, library use, receipt of hall passes or completion of assignments—or much, much more. Educational institutions, which need a 360° view of each student to enhance the learning experience, are exploring how to use student data to uncover insights that will allow a personalized educational approach to each student.

But though data is plentiful, many hurdles and questions still face educational institutions. Some educators question whether use of students’ social data violates students’ privacy. Moreover, Lucy Gray, Independent Education Consultant, has challenged educators to go beyond measuring student engagement by test scores to “measure soft skills for students.” Susan Bearden, director of information technology at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, believes that despite the promise of analytics in education, many educators fear the punitive side of analytics; vendors, she says, share a corporate responsibility to educate administrators in responsible use of analytics. For example, considering the growth of the IBM and Twitter partnership, how will educators use Twitter data?


4. Achieve economic vitality through results-based government

U.S. government agencies appear to have gotten the memo: Big data is good for you” opened an E-Commerce Times article, and for good reason. Though many government agencies have been laggards in the field of big data and analytics, some have reached their stride, using analytics to expand their knowledge base for better decision making. With analytics, governments can improve citizen and business services, manage resources more effectively and improve public safety. The City of Minneapolis saw a 95% improvement in police investigation times with analytics. This raises an important question: Why are some cities so slow to adopt analytics for government operations?


5. Bring intelligence to cyber threat analysis

Bob Stasio, Senior Product Manager at IBM sat down in an intimate setting and shared his thoughts on cybersecurity and the role of cyber analysis in cybersecurity. According to Stasio, 80 percent of threats can be stopped by a good information security architecture. But there’s a flip side to that statistic: The other 20 percent will reach the network no matter what. To address such threats, we need the three-legged stool of cyber analysis: intelligence.

And that's analytics in the public sector through my lens. Stay tuned for more insights from Insight 2015, and don’t forget to learn more about IBM solutions for governmenteducation and healthcare.

Until tomorrow,

Jen Q., from Insight 2015