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How Government Can Leverage Big Data

Security concerns have never been more on top of the mind than now. The recent Panama Papers expose is a big reminder of the huge role that data can play in uncovering fraud and security breaches. The Panama Papers are a cache of 1.6 million documents which were analyzed with the help of powerful data analytics to uncover how the rich exploited offshore tax regimes for personal gains. The politics of the incident was something that we see only in movies. What was more interesting about this incident was the sheer volume of data analyzed which amounted to almost 2.6 terabytes. Most of this data was text that could not be recognized by machines and needed to be sorted and organized in order to be analyzed. Once this was done, a powerful search algorithm was employed to look for specific links in the database and then this automated information was combined with manually created data to create the search tool. Clearly, data analytics is a huge asset that can deliver great value to governments.

Since governments and government agencies have a wide scope of responsibility across several jurisdictions, they are under constant pressure to deliver greater value to the citizens and businesses. Today, governments have to be more responsive and accountable to the people by providing greater transparency into their decision-making processes. Along with this, they also have to ensure that threats to national and pubic security are addressed proactively instead of reactively. This is where big data can play a crucial role to improve efficiencies and address challenges.

Governments are collecting various forms of data, both structured and unstructured, from citizen records, businesses, transactions, social interactions, tax records, motor records, crime records, etc. In this blog, we take a look at some areas where big data analytics can benefit government agencies and programs.

Fraud Detection

Frauds and errors lead to losses amounting to billions of dollars each year. Big Data can help governments and agencies detect potential problems and breaches rapidly by analyzing data collected from several sources. By analyzing all structured and unstructured data from watch lists, medical records, death records, financial transactions, geospatial information, social media, and other such data sources, agency personnel can gain insights into anomalies and investigate cases to determine if frauds, errors or abuses are taking place.

Big data analytics can help governments identify if there are any errors or fraud being committed in their social programs by identifying payment errors and giving deep insights to the case workers. It can help tax agencies reduce tax gaps and increase revenue collection by detecting fraud cases and ensuring that all the entities pay their due share on time. It also helps in reducing time to complete the audits efficiently.

Identifying Threats and Preventing Crime

National and public safety are two primary areas of government responsibility. While we are not talking about a Minority Report like scenario, big data analytics can help governments identify potential threats and crimes before they happen. This can fundamentally improve public and national security by improving intelligence, finding critical information faster, improving threat analysis, finding associations between people and suspicious activities, enabling faster information sharing, and aiding collaboration between investigative agencies. Big data analytics can also help in identifying threats to sensitive government facilities and check growing cyber-security risks. This can be done by analyzing the huge volume of data with location insights, relationship mapping, real-time identity, and associated intelligence about the targets.

Improve Healthcare

Big data analytics can also be employed by governments to aid health-related research. The healthcare industry generates huge volumes of data. By leveraging the data contained in the healthcare ecosystem in the form of records, patient history, and clinical data, government organizations can aid health research and uncover patterns that need immediate remediation.

Big Data analytics can play a big role in not only making the healthcare delivery system more efficient and cost effective, it can help governments identify potential healthcare threats that emerge in the form of epidemics and pandemics. By leveraging big data analytics, governments can work at containing epidemics and pandemics by working proactively in providing healthcare support to the affected areas. Big data analytics can also help in identifying their enablers and recognize how the disease will spread. Governments then can take proactive action by tracking population flow, issue health warnings and make the relevant medical treatment available on time. This can reduce the mortality rates and also the other socio-economic impacts associated with such medical emergencies.

Environmental Protection

With environment protection gaining momentum, governments and government agencies can leverage big data to integrate research efforts to identify contaminants coming oil spills, analyze weather, oceanography and plant data to contain damages emerging from these. Big data can also be employed to predict ground condition and weather and environmental risks such as forest fires. Further, big data can enable researchers work and allocate renewable sources of energy by analyzing weather and energy production on a real-time basis.

Given that the data universe that is growing every second, there is no shortage of data. The challenge, however, rests in how efficiently this data is used to predict, prevent and take real-time action.


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