Public Sector News: Security, privacy and strategies for data

July 2015, Issue 12

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

How do you think big data will impact the lives of citizens, the public sector and our world? The news this week highlights the impact that big data can have on our economy, though we still see the need for data protection because of cybersecurity threats. Here is a look at some of the top stories this week. personal data will be stolen

Dogmatic statements such as “your personal data will be stolen” can be a bit disconcerting. However, if governments, educational institutions, healthcare providers and corporations do not take the necessary steps to ensure citizens’ data is safe, this statement is likely to be our reality. Consider the US Office of Personal Management having to disclose that the records and personal data for over 21 million individuals were stolen in the most recent data breach. According to Ray Martin in a CBS MoneyWatch piece, “By now it should be apparent that if your personal and confidential information hasn’t already been compromised, it will be.” Martin goes on to say that professional data thieves target the big data warehouses at retailers, large employers and even the federal government, and he adds that individuals should take greater interest than the bad guys when it comes to their credit and financial information. —Ray Martin for CBS MoneyWatch

White House seeks to leverage health big data, safeguard privacy

When capitalizing on big data, the White House asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that individual privacy is protected by consulting with stakeholders and assessing how federal laws and regulations can accommodate big data analyses. In addition, it also asked the HHS to create recommendations for promoting and facilitating research through access to data while also safeguarding patient privacy and autonomy. This directive is excellent news, as researchers indicate that 21 percent of doctors rated their clinics’ cybersecurity systems as below average. And given the number and frequency of breaches today, that number is alarmingly low. —Greg Slabodkin for Thoughts on Cloud

Big data? Small data? We need an “all of the above” strategy for development data  

According to Daniella Ballou-Aares and Tony Pipa, “It’s time to put to rest the debate about big data versus small data for development.” With so many economic problems challenging our societies, global economy pundits say we need to change our perspective to data as capital for sustainable development rather than thinking of data as an enabler. Ballou-Aares and Pipa advise that an all-of-the-above strategy is needed to mobilize small data, big data, resources, analytics capacity and leadership responsibly to address privacy concerns that can help solve pressing social, economic and environmental challenges. —Daniella Ballou-Aares and Tony Pipa for Dipnote

Opinion: Apple and IBM have big data plans for education

Apple and IBM are putting the spotlight on education and transforming the way we learn by bringing personalized mobile learning for students. While covering a June meeting of the board of trustees of the Coppell Independent School District in Texas for ComputerWorld, Jonny Evans quoted Alex Kaplan from IBM, who described the Student Achievement App as “a dynamic teaching tool that harnesses data analytics.” Kaplan also said that the app can provide educators with “actionable intelligence on a per-student basis.” The idea is to give educators deep insight into student learning outcomes that enable enhanced learning. Evans’s piece also mentions a prediction by Katharine Frase, IBM CTO of Public Sector, that in ten years classrooms will look even more different than they have looked over the last 200 years. —Jonny Evans for ComputerWorld

How big data has transformed research

Academics being interviewed about their research were asked what they think the future holds for big data and research. Shy Genel, Hubble fellow at the astronomy department of Columbia University, US, said that big data advances are guaranteed to provide new insights into the workings of nature. Idit Kosti, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Computational Health Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, imagines a world in which genetic profiles together with physical measurements can play a key role in medical decisions. And Simon Popple, deputy head, school of media and communication, University of Leeds, answered the question by saying that big data needs to be carefully translated and made relevant to be useful to communities. Though these responses vary, each reveals interesting perspectives on the expected promise of big data. —Claire Shaw for The Guardian

How else can data and analytics shape the world?

Learn more about the power of analytics in the public sector.