Data Insights for Good

Published: February 25, 2015 by Guest Contributor

picture2By: Barbara Rivera

Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created – in fact, 90% of the world’s data was created in only the last few years. With the staggering amount of data available, we have an unprecedented opportunity to uncover new insights and improve the way our world functions. The implications of these new capabilities are perhaps nowhere else as crucial as within our government.

Public sector officials carry the great responsibility of conducting complex missions that directly affect our communities, our economy, and our nation’s future. The ability to make more informed, insightful choices and better decisions is paramount. Especially at a time of broader global unrest and uncertainty, Americans rely on our government to be transparent, fair, ready and to make the right decisions – our trust is in the hands of our elected officials and public servants.

Data alone is not enough to inform and affect change. However, with integrated information assets, insightful analysts and collaborative processes, data can be transformed into something meaningful and actionable.

Our government has already begun leveraging data for good across agencies and varied missions, with more potential unlocked each day. Local governments like Orange County, California are utilizing data through address verification services to keep their voting lists accurate – ensuring the integrity of elections and saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars otherwise wasted on mailings to outdated lists. The Orange County Registrar of Voters – the fifth largest voting jurisdiction in the county – has been able to cancel 40,000 voting records, with an estimated savings of $94,000 expected from 2012 through 2016. The examples are numerous and growing:

  • A suite of optimization tools helps states find non-custodial parents, determine their capacity and likelihood to pay child support, and trigger alerts with new critical information, maximizing the likelihood of payment and recovery, ultimately improving the welfare of children and reducing poverty
  • More than 150 state, county and local law enforcement agencies leverage data to help identify persons of interest, conduct background screening for employees and contractors and provide financial backgrounds for criminal investigations, ensuring our continued safety
  • By using the power of data to manage user authentication, credentials and access controls, the government is working harder – and smarter – to protect our security
  • The government is leveraging verified commercial data to help agencies validate the fiscal responsibility of potential contractors and monitor existing contractors, which helps provide transparency and reduce risk
  • By using data and analytics to authenticate applicants and validate financial data, the government is ensuring access to benefits for those who meet eligibility requirements, while at the same time reducing fraud
  • Private sector partners are supporting municipal efforts to improve financial stability in households by providing the current credit standing of consumers and monitoring overall changes in financial behaviors over time, to help counsel and educate citizens

And that’s only the beginning. The possibilities are endless – from healthcare to finance to energy – data can be leveraged for the advancement of our society.

It even happens behind the scenes, working to protect information in ways most citizens never realize. Data insights are used to ensure citizens have secure online access to their information – ever see those randomized, personal questions? That’s data at work. The same technology is the de facto ID Proofing standard for the VA and CMS.

How does it all work? By combing through the data carefully, putting it in context, looking at it in new ways, and thinking about what all this information really means. Much of this is made possible through public-private partnerships between the government and companies like Experian.

So the next time someone complains about the slow pace of government, let them know the truth is government is moving quickly, leveraging data and private sector partnerships to uncover new insights that impact the greater good.