How has Big Data helped shaped the US government?
Consider a few Independance Day facts in order to answer this question:
The Fourth of July represents America’s birth as an independent nation. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. The preamble of the Declaration states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Big Data: Creating A Happier Government
Big Data has already started to impact various governmental sectors in many ways, leading to more effective decision making, better economic opportunities, a more secure manner for storing personal information and much more. And while Big Data is still a fresh concept within the governmental sector, data analysis surely seems to be contributing to the concept of, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The White House Senior Counselor, John Podesta mentioned during an event held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that, “We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used. The immense volume, diversity, velocity, and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy and public policy.”
The benefits that Big Data can bring to various government sectors seem endless. The United States department of Treasury, Health, Transportation, Education and even the Army are all benefiting from Big Data analytics.
Department of Treasury
The United States Department of the Treasury has created an online portal called, “Do Not Pay,” to help prevent and reduce improper payments from being made and to identify fraud. The Do Not Pay Business Center connects to several databases which allow agencies to search data sources to see whether a payee is eligible or ineligible to receive payments. The Do Not Pay Business Center notes on its website that, “It’s a simple and streamlined way to review our data sources during the pre-award and pre-payment processes to ultimately help your agency reduce improper payments.”
The Do Not Pay program relies on Big Data being generated from sources across the globe. In fact, many agencies are now focusing on gathering more machine-readable data which can be shared across a variety of sources so multiple agencies can access certain information to prevent fraudulent activities from occurring.
Department of Health
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has also begun using Big Data analytics to improve services and detect fraud. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have started using a Big Data analytics software to detect instances of reimbursement fraud before claims are paid.
The CMS Fraud Prevention System aims to help healthcare providers identify fraud and abuse in real-time. According to a CMS.gov press release, the CMS Fraud Prevention System has already prevented $210 million in imporoper medicare payments in its second year of operations. This is a huge step for healthcare providers which could only be reached with Big Data capabilities.
Department of Transportation
Envision a future where talking “smart” cars will transform various transportation options. This is exactly what Tim Schmidt, Senior Technology Advisor at FHWA-TFHRC, U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), aims to do with Big Data. The U.S. Department of Transportation is now conducting connected vehicle research which will create transportation options aimed at saving lives, creating safer roads, improving traffic sources and making our lives much easier in terms of transportation.
The idea of “smart” transportation will be made possible through connected vehicles which are combined with cutting-edge technologies such as sensors, real-time Big Data solutions, GPS systems, etc. Smart transportation options will ultimately create real-time communication between vehicles, mobile devices, and roadside infrastructures.
Department of Education
In 2012, the US Department of Education (DOE) was part of a group of agencies to share a $200 million initiative to start applying Big Data analytics to enhance their systems. The Department of Education’s main goal for using Big Data analytics was to understand how students learn at an individual level in order to improve certain outcomes, make more accurate decisions and create a learning system based on analytical insights.
Educational data mining is playing a major role in this equation. Both structured and unstructured data being generated from grade sheets, attendance records, simulations, learning games, etc. can now be analyzed with a Big Data solution to answer questions such as how long students take between answering questions, which types of hints benefit students the most, which kinds of questions students typically get wrong, etc.
Insights coming from student data will ultimately create a more efficient learning environment by providing teachers with the information they need to understand how different students learn and which forms of teaching work best for certain individuals. Big Data analysis is beneficial at a state, national and global level, providing educators everywhere with information on how various learners perform in the classroom.
Big Data has now become a staple on the battlefield. Big Data analytics are providing Army officials with intelligence information which is updated in real-time/near real-time which could potentially save lives and answer questions which previously couldn’t be solved.
The US Army for example has implemented The Army Enterprise Management Decision Support (EMDS) system. This web-enabled system provides decision makers with 18 authoritative data sources which can potentially help officials analyze, predict and manage their personnel, equipment, training and facilities more efficiently.
Additionally, The US Army Institute of Surgical Research has created a database called the Joint Trauma System (JTS). This database contains information on patient injuries, treatments and results which are collected from various field hospitals and medical centers. By accessing this information, Army analysts are able to provide the most efficient forms of patient care.
This real-time database holds more than 150,000 patient records and allows analysts to uncover hidden trends in treatment response. The combination of surgeons’ experiences with analysis from the JTS helps the US Army develop better clinical practice guidelines and forms of personalized medicines.
The Pursuit of Big Data
As The Fourth of July quickly approaches, Americans everywhere should embrace their independence, along with the government’s usage of Big Data. The US Government has already invested over $250 million in Big Data throughout its federal agencies since the launch of the 2012 Big Data Initiative and this number will only continue to increase (This number is expected to reach $8 billion by 2017, as displayed in the graph below featured on Evolita.com). The benefits and opportunities that Big Data has had on various governmental department are truly remarkable and will surely advance as new technologies enter the Big Data market.
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