Government agencies at all levels in the U.S. face a mounting stream of information, but they’re relying on tools that weren’t designed to process such high demand. Many agencies still maintain relational databases that silo information in multiple backend systems, resulting in troves of potentially useful data. Nonetheless, in 2013, MIT found that only 0.5 percent of all global data is analyzed and acted on.
So how do agencies take advantage of the tide of data? In this fast-paced environment, efficiency is both a necessity and a challenge. To improve decision-making, agencies need to simplify the complexity into a single view of the larger picture with open source databases.
With open source databases, departments can better serve their constituents and the industries they regulate, allowing decision-makers to keep pace even as populations expand. Here’s how:
Tailor User Experiences
When citizens access government services online, they expect to find the information in one place. Companies like Amazon can build entire profiles of people and give recommendations based on their observed interests and past purchases. Open source databases offer agencies the flexibility to link back-end databases and build profiles from existing data sets without completely rebuilding from scratch.
For example, a government unemployment office can now offer targeted advice to job seekers based on factors like their previous work experience and skill levels. Veterans using VA self-service portals can view all information regarding potential benefits and their own submission statuses. Instead of using multiple windows to compile data manually, the relevant data is presented in one place, lessening decision times and increasing efficiency.
Drive Intelligent Operations
Big data is not really about the collected data itself, but how we use that data to drive insights. Spreadsheets full of numbers and figures don’t have much significance except to the technical experts that build them. The City of Chicago has taken this lesson in stride and built WindyGrid, an intelligent operations platform that works off a range of open source technologies.
WindyGrid ingests an average of 7 million pieces of new data daily from 15 city departments, such as fire, health, and police stations. With their open source based intelligence platform, the data is consolidated and seen in geospatial mapping for instant viewing and intelligent decision making. The City of Chicago is able to continually make proactive improvements to responses to health and weather emergencies, crime and traffic congestion. For example, incidents are reported and tracked in real time, and their effects on traffic flow or bus routes, are monitored and improved. WindyGrid builds a picture from thousands of sensors, like cameras on street lights to monitor road conditions, and user reporting to graphically display the events that affect everyday citizen life to city managers for optimal decision making.
Visualize the Future
Open source programs allow users to modify and build out portfolios of programs to meet their specific needs, including visualization tools to increase the value of these solutions. Technical experts can fine-tune the system to match end-users’ needs, who can consume the data quicker and with greater understanding.
Time needed to understand spreadsheets and data tables can now be dedicated to turning that information into action in real time. In the case of the City of Chicago, this advantage can make all the difference for the citizens WindyGrid is built to serve. With open source technology and data visualization tools, governments can not only handle high volumes of data, but make sense of it and act. This advantage is the key to improving the citizen experience.
To learn more about open source technology can build databases that produce actionable insights, click here.