Public Sector News: How analytics is changing our world

April 2015, Issue 2

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier famously declared that "big data is a revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think." Here are some of those revolutions from this week in the public sector.

Equipping EU cars with automatic emergency call systems

I am always thrilled about innovation, especially when it enhances health and safety. However, when governments mandate emergency systems in all vehicles, I can't help but wonder if that data will only be used for emergency management and how we protect that data. “Cars and light vans in the European Union will be fitted with an automatic emergency call device as of March 2018, now that the European Parliament approved rules that make such a system mandatory. . . The system will only share a basic set of data with emergency services, including the type of vehicle, the fuel used, the time of the accident, the exact location and the number of passengers.”—Loek Essers for IDG News Service

Protecting student data: Even the experts are just figuring it out

No matter the industry, big data is always walking the privacy tightrope in an effort to maintain balance. Today, educators and policy makers are on the hot seat as higher education is increasingly analyzing student data including student ID card swipes, online discussion forums and grades. “As schools introduce devices into classrooms to enhance learning, and as technology has made it easier to collect thousands of data points per child, student data privacy has politicians facing tough questions and school officials scratching their heads.”—Emily Richmond for Education Writers Association

Chicago uses new technology to solve a very old urban problem

When I think of a rat problem, I immediately think of rat traps and big chunks of aged Swiss cheese. The city of Chicago, however, is bringing new cheese to the fight—big data. “We discovered [a] really interesting relationship that led to developing an algorithm about rodent prediction,” says Brenna Berman, Chicago’s chief information officer.”—Mehboob Jeelani for Fortune 

China to use big data to rate citizens in a new social credit system

China has had a plan underway for several years to institute a numerical rating system of its citizens, an is now utilizing big data to develop that grading scale. Who will make the cut? The rating system will be based on the financial standing, criminal record and social media behavior of each citizen. “A new translation of the government’s plans for a so-called social credit system sheds light on how China aims to utilize big ata to hold all citizens accountable for financial decisions as well as moral choices.”—Michelle FlorCruz for International Business Times

Prying Open Government: The Sunlight Foundation's Fight for Transparency

Many are of the school of thought of the more data we have the less data we have. There is much talk of freedom of information and access to information yet do we really have access to insights? Chris Gates, director of the Sunlight Foundation says, "we live in a world of big data and people talk about big data all the time. But until data is actually sorted in a way that makes sense – and truly open, so that people can have access to it – the fact that we're surrounded by data doesn't change much."—

Data analytics, prevention efforts could drive down child deaths

Every year more than year 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States.” In addition, a report from the Department of Family and Protective Services and Department of State Health Services indicated that of the “4,723 child fatalities between 2010 and 2013, 14.5 percent (686) were confirmed abuse- and neglect-related deaths”—which is a very disturbing statistic. I welcome any and all help analytics can give, and applaud the states that are leveraging every tool possible, to save children. "Texas is following in the footsteps of California, which has already begun to use big data to reform child welfare and is slowly integrating groundbreaking research that links childhood trauma and negative experiences to a greater likelihood of adult social and health problems.”—Beth Cortez-Neavel for The Chronicle of Social Change

How is big data and analytics transforming your city, neighborhood or country? What other public sector and analytics stories captured your thoughts this week?

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