Big Data Analytics: Making Government Data Work
“Big data” comes with many promises, but the data alone is not a silver bullet. True, it holds the potential for extracting business or mission intelligence and improving decision-making, but without the application of expert domain knowledge to give data contextual meaning, big data is nothing but a whole lot of dark figures.
Government Big Data
Currently, federal agencies cannot make use of all their government data because they do not (or cannot afford to) employ enough data scientists—that is, experts who possess domain knowledge and can use government big data analytic technologies to ask the right questions and extract business or mission intelligence from vast pools of data. Making use of big data under these circumstances presents a unique challenge.
Many organizations are trying to address the technology challenge of big data analytics. The TechAmerica Foundation’s Big Data Commission, for example, recently released a report that gives organizations guidelines for an effective government big data program. Examination of these steps shows a decided focus not just on technical capabilities, but on organizational policies as well. The Commission recommends that CIOs take a “holistic approach to help guide the agency from an information management perspective and follow these key steps:
- Identify data and content that are vital to its mission
- Identify how, when, where and to whom information should be made available
- Determine appropriate big data management, governance and security practices
- Identify and prioritize the information analytics projects that deliver the most value.
This industry brief explores how analysts who are thoroughly grounded in an agency's mission can become data scientists without acquiring the advanced skills required to interact with the big data's underlying technologies. Our industry must develop an abstraction layer that facilitates turning big data into insight. Creating such a layer will require two elements: (1) improved big data analytics technology and (2) intuitive, more manageable interfaces to control querying tools.
Download the entire Big Data brief (PDF, 267 kb) to continue reading.