Public Sector News: Leveraging new technology and data for public life

July 2015, Issue 13

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

The week of July 20, 2015 contained quite a bit of chatter across the newswires about public safety, ranging from monitoring threats in real time, disaster preparedness with data to the possibility of car hacks and the massive jeep recall. Advanced technologies bring risk and opportunities. Citizens, corporations and governments need to work together to ensure that they leverage new technologies and data to help mitigate and prevent threats to financial systems, nations, people and more. in government rev up to serve the mission

Mobile technology and the Internet of Things, including all its connected devices, demonstrate the beauty of innovation. However, they come with great risk, including cyberthreats. The pressing question is how can we increase operational, strategic and tactical effectiveness and efficiency through decisions based on real time intelligence? According to Randy Siegel in his July 22, 2015 FedTech article, “The holy grail of mobile computing for many in government is the ability to monitor threats in real time.” If getting to this plateau is possible, citizens across the globe would certainly rejoice. As Siegel writes, despite the daunting nature of the task, cybercrime requires ongoing, associated real-time monitoring no matter whether the crime is a hack at Sony, Target or the Office of Personnel Management. —Randy Siegel for FedTech

WPI to launch the nation’s first interdisciplinary PhD program in data science

“By 2015,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research, “4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support big data, generating 1.9 million IT jobs in the United States.” We’re well into 2015, and many analysts and pundits agree that a shortage of analytics skills does indeed exist. Thankfully, having launched one of the first masters programs in data science in 2014, beginning the fall of 2015 Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is set to provide an interdisciplinary PhD program in the field. According to a recent WPI press release, “Students in the new PhD program will complete course work that will give them a breadth of knowledge in mathematical analysis, data access and management, data analytics and mining, and business intelligence.” Perhaps a resolution to the data skills shortage problem is forthcoming. —press release for WPI

Data in action: The role of data in humanitarian disasters

According to Lisa Cornish at, big data and open data are more than just buzzwords, especially for nongovernmental organizations that respond to humanitarian disasters. These technologies are fast becoming a necessity in saving lives. Interestingly enough, this topic will be discussed at the upcoming i2Summit. When governments can utilize data to quickly respond and help its citizens recover from natural disasters, it gives them a distinct advantage. We have seen firsthand how the Philippines is employing analytics for improving crisis preparedness. "The demand for data is making the job of responding to disasters in developing nations easier," Cornish writes. "In the Philippines, the government directive for open data means more data is becoming available and in accessible formats, which can be delivered to the public through technology such as Project Agos." Thwarting unexpected natural disasters is not possible, but analytics can help us enhance our preparedness.Lisa Cornish for Devex

The information within ourselves

Tom Coughlin at Forbes projects that by 2025, genomes are expected to be sequenced for up to 25 percent of the population in developed nations—and half of that proportion in less-developed nations. Coughlin goes on to say that the escalation of biological and medical data is a source of big data for researchers who are exploring the use of DNA for storing information. The idea of information-encoded DNA—for example, family history that may be passed down through generations—is quite intriguing. Oftentimes, new technologies and innovations can render the public at large wary, which then becomes the norm. And admittedly, the idea of storing information in DNA makes me more squeamish than it does intrigue me. What are your thoughts? —Tom Coughlin at Forbes

IBM pilots “Ask Watson” in a British Columbia smart city app

Though many of us have tormented Siri with outlandish questions just to hear what response she would come up with, many of us have grown attached to Siri. I am glad that IBM is bringing these capabilities to IBM Watson, and for an excellent cause with “Ask Watson” for the city of Surrey, in British Columbia, Canada. “The app will be combined with the city’s existing My Surrey mobile and web tools,” Natalie Gagliordi writes in a recent ZDNet article. The app allows the city’s residents to ask Watson a range of questions ranging from “why trash wasn’t collected” to “how to contest a parking violation,” to “how to locate a lost pet.” —Natalie Gagliordi for ZDNet

What role will you play in helping create a smarter and safer planet? Register for i2Summit.