'Big data' - another sweeping trend
by Mary Scott Nabers,
CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Big data is a new buzz word that is taking the technology industry by storm, and both the private and public sectors are tapping into the trend. Big data refers to the massive amounts of information collected and maintained by government and other large companies on a daily basis. The data and information, because it is so incredibly large, is increasingly becoming digitized. And, new software programs are designed to provide analysis that has never been possible in the past. The move to this new computing capability is quickly becoming the norm.
The federal government announced what is being called the "Big Data Research and Development Initiative" in May. The program provided $200 million in funding to explore how governmental agencies can utilize the troves of data collected to augment the business of government. The TechAmerica Foundation was commissioned to study the possibilities.
At its core, Big Data enables government organizations to be smarter and to improve productivity. But the results have been even greater. Better decisions are made with better analysis and data sharing between department directors and have resulted in reduced costs and better constituent services. Big data initiatives increase transparency, improve automated services and provide a greater return on technology spending.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is using big data for enhanced law enforcement and public safety. As can be imagined, the sheer size of the NYPD results in massive amounts of data. Managing it was a staggering task. The department needed a big data solution in the worst way because the information on hand was critically important to crime detection, enhanced criminal investigations, public safety, cost containment and more.
The Domain Awareness System, NYPD’s big data program, now integrates data from more than 3,000 cameras, 911 call centers, license plate recognition data and various other city databases. A private sector partner was selected to help the city incorporate this big data solution.
The state of Colorado is exploring the use of a big data program by launching an Information Marketplace that will compile data from various state and local governments. The state wants to use the raw data to explore trends and find ways to improve government programs and Colorado’s education system. The state will gather and then analyze data from local and higher education entities, corrections agencies and numerous social service programs. The ultimate goal will be to identify major trends in the Colorado education system. Then, through analysis, the state will use the information to help shape initiatives for improvement.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation also implemented a new system using big data to monitor traffic levels in the state. The Department of Transportation set up a traffic management center that analyzes traffic data that is constantly fed to the program’s supercomputers. The program utilizes data from cell phone GPS signals along roadways to determine if there is stopped traffic while taking into consideration weather, special events and other factors. State officials are able to dispatch response crews at a faster rate than traditional road sensor monitors that often lack significant reach on state roadways. Watch for more big data solutions in the near future.