Good public uses of big data analytics

So much of the attention to the role of “big data” analytics in government has centered on the National Security Agency and its controversial efforts to collect and use personal information. That’s why we appreciate this piece from Brookings’ FixGov blog, which looks at positive—and much more above-board—uses of so-called “big data” by public agencies. Here are examples of “Analytics 3.0” at work in the public sector:data word in wood type

City and regional transportation departments are creating “intelligent transportation systems” that use remote cameras and cell phone data to determine traffic conditions in order to adjust the timing of traffic lights and pre-position emergency equipment.

Public hospitals and the Veterans Health Administration are using mobile devices to input health data in real time… so treatment decisions can be made in minutes instead of days. They are also embedding sensors in patient protocols and hospital supplies to track their use and replacement.

The Department of Homeland Security is planning its next steps to help states and localities to employ real-time, continuous monitoring of computer networks to detect and deter cyber-security events.

Several federal agencies are pioneering the concept of “citizens as sensors,” as proposed by Davenport. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are using social media data to more quickly predict the spread of the flu than had been possible using traditional methods. And the US Geological Survey is using Twitter and other social media to detect earthquakes, as they are being reported by citizens, sometimes faster and more accurately than their scientific equipment.

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