Ask a child what they want to do for a living and the answer typically falls into two categories: Something incredibly exciting (astronaut, athlete or singer) or something that helps others (firefighter, police officer or teacher).
No child says that they simply want a paycheck. As adults, people work for a variety of reasons – a paycheck chief among them – but many government employees have deeper motivations. Government work offers a chance to help the public or providing services that add a real benefit to the lives of citizens.
A lot of this public-sector work is being accomplished using big data and analytics. Why? Because using analytics can improve outcomes of public programs.
This e-book touches on several areas where analytics is making a significant impact in the way governments operate. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite best practices that showcase the role analytics plays in better decision making.
Using big data and analytics to make meaningful change
Every 15 minutes a person in the US dies from opioid abuse. The federal government has dubbed the opioid epidemic a national health emergency and many states have also declared public health emergencies for additional funding to help address the problem.
Data shows that every county in the US has seen an increase in opioid-related deaths. By combining this information with demographics, it is apparent that the opioid crisis continues to grow in rural areas with lower incomes and higher rates of unemployment.
For example, a map of Virginia showed that the counties surrounding Washington D.C. saw little increase in opioid deaths for the last decade, while the counties in rural southwest Virginia along the Appalachian Mountains saw startling growth.
“With this type of data, the government can more directly target specific areas for treatment, but also see what types of areas could be affected in the future,” said Steve Kearney, medical director of the SAS US government practice. “There are lots of solutions that can show what happened. What analytics can do, though, is pick up on trends that predict what will happen in the future. That way changes can be made to curtail the problem.”
How? Using big data and analytics can help federal and state agencies implement opioid-avoidance programs in these areas – everything from community education to targeting doctors that overprescribe medication – to make real change.
With this type of data, the government can more directly target specific areas for treatment, but also see what types of areas could be affected in the future,There are lots of solutions that can show what happened. What analytics can do, though, is pick up on trends that predict what will happen in the future. That way changes can be made to curtail the problem. Steve Kearney Medical Director, SAS US Government Practice
Big data government: Where there is data, there are solutions
Opioid abuse prevention is just one area where data and analytics are empowering government. Big data and analytics can be applied to just about any public-sector program to provide tangible outcomes, including:
- Emergency response. Analytics have been used in response to major natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan to identify health issues, coordinate thousands of displaced individuals and prevent water scarcity issues. Recently, following Hurricane Maria, analytics was used to identify areas of need and for more effective resource allocation.
- Anti-money laundering. Analytics are being used to prevent money laundering and financial crimes, directly impacting terrorist organizations or unfriendly foreign governments that use illicit financial activities to fund their operations.
- Insider threats. Using analytics to detect anomalies and irregular behavior, agencies can greatly reduce the amount of data that gets leaked or stolen. This helps prevent fraud and cybercrime that drains money and resources that could otherwise be used for programs to help the citizenry.
- Workforce effectiveness. Agencies can better understand the workforce gaps that could develop as employees either retire or leave for the private sector. By ensuring that new employees can fill the gaps, and by introducing ways to retain employees, agencies can continue to operate effectively.
Big data and analytics provide a tremendous benefit to the public sector. Moreover, analytics improve outcomes that have a direct impact on citizens. Whether it’s a fight against a nationwide drug issue, response to a local disaster, protection against the loss of sensitive information or intellectual property, or simply making government more efficient, the analytical insights you can gain from your stores of big data make a difference.
For additional details on areas where analytics are making an impact, visit our Data for Good page.
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