Public Sector News: Big data gateways to innovation

August 2015, Issue 15

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

The application of analytics continues to engender innovative enhancements for cities, governments and schools. News in the public sector the week of August 3, 2015 includes universities creating a big data freeway to share and exploit data for research, governments being urged to use big data to improve citizen engagement and city officials leveraging big data to transform their cities. Despite the additional bad news of the latest hack at the Pentagon, these top stories are inspiring. citizen-government satisfaction

This GCN article cited findings from the recent Forrester Research report, “Transform Government from the Outside In,” in an effort to determine why agencies are challenged to provide a level of customer experience that matches the private sector. “To keep up with public expectations, Forrester found governments must embrace mobile, turn big data into actionable insights, improve the customer experience and accelerate digital government.” By integrating mobile and analytics best practices, governments can accelerate the transformation to digital processes that enhance the customer experience. —Amanda Ziadeh for GCN

New South Wales governor leads the way for big data and analytics

With increasing frequency, many governments are relying on their data to enhance their policy-making decisions. As reported at Trendingpod, the New South Wales government announced an initiative for planning the first data analytics center to be established in Australia. The initiative follows the application of data and analytics implementations in government agencies in New Zealand and New York and Michigan in the US. The intention, according to the Trendingpod article, is to derive data from social studies to gain insight based on existing policies and to create enhanced policies that can help citizens. The article quotes Victor Dominello, minister for innovation and better regulation, who said that data represents the most significant asset a government possesses, but that data can potentially “be rendered useless if left to rot under red tape.” —Arno Loiselle for Trendingpod

Big brother of student data comes to campus

Helen Warrell writes in a recent Business Day Live article that “a week after students begin their distance learning courses at the UK’s Open University this October, a computer program will have predicted their final grade.” No matter which side of the student-data-privacy equation you’re on, that statement offers a lot of food for thought. Warrell points out that university students in the UK and US face academic and financial pressure to successfully complete their degree programs, which may put student privacy at risk. She cites Andrew Keen, author of The Internet Is Not the Answer—which offers an analysis of how big data can be used to monetize activities such as education. According to Keen, safeguarding the privacy of students is becoming a huge concern. —Helen Warrell for Business Day Live

California universities to establish a West Coast big data freeway

Big data is taking to the roads and creating its own speed limits. According to Government Technology in an article originally from, two public universities in California “will use a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a high-capacity ‘freeway’ capable of moving data 1,000 times faster than what can be done today on an intercampus shared network.” The intent of this data-sharing platform is to securely connect research networks used by California campuses, other West Coast universities outside of California and national laboratories. A key benefit of this project will be the ability for multiple universities to leverage data for the study of cancer genomics, particle physics and more. —News staff for Government Technology

Big names in big data are set to help New Orleans crunch numbers 

A recent article in The Times-Picayune points out how New Orleans is making big strides given how long the city was reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is one of eight cities that will participate in the first round of a Bloomberg program called What Works Cities. As Robert McClendon reports, “Some of the sharpest minds in public policy will soon be helping New Orleans bureaucrats harness the power of big data to find new ways of making government more effective and efficient.” This partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies is expected to facilitate a variety of applications. For example, New Orleans would be able to determine which of its 80,000 drainage catch basins potentially produce the most flooding. McClendon’s piece also quotes Sharman Stein, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg program, who praised the city of New Orleans for its use of data to address problems. —Robert McClendon for The Times-Picayune

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