We wish to take this opportunity to introduce Steve Hamby, recently announced as Managing Director Government here at Cambridge Semantics. In this newly created position, Steve serves Cambridge Semantics’ federal government customers seeking insights from big data discovery, analysis and data management solutions to provide more timely, accurate and customizable information to staff, citizens, media and businesses.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Steve for a short Q&A:
Q. What are the opportunities you’re seeing for smart data solutions in government today?
A. The government has had a huge focus on transparency in the last several years – recent administrations have made it clear that the government needs to make data readily available to all citizens. The good news is that the technology has caught up to where the government wants to be.
Q. How will smart data solutions be applied differently in the government sector versus business?
A. Government agencies are measured by how well they are delivering on their department’s mission versus a profit-and-loss column that a business would focus on.
Every government agency requires periodic evaluations of their operational efficiency. These evaluations are performed internally or by another agency such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which monitors and audits government spending and operations.
Government agency evaluations could be completed much more thoroughly and quickly with smart data discovery and analytics.
That said, we believe there are a lot of efficiencies that businesses are finding through smart data that government agencies could also leverage in much the same way.
Q. Can you provide more detail on how agencies can experience the smart data benefits that businesses have?
A. Agencies can take advantage of these modern business intelligence tools now because most have standardized their reporting in the last 10 years, so it’s much easier to slice and dice the data. I don’t think many agencies recognize that the data is there now. It gives them the ability to focus on how they are spending money on programs and what the return on investment has been, e.g. whether they are effectively and efficiently meeting agency objectives.
Q. Can you provide an example of how a specific government agency would benefit from these solutions?
Health and Human Services (HHS), for instance, is always looking for ways to discover and penalize fraud. Similar to how our Anzo Smart Data Lake solutions are helping the financial sector monitor for insider trading, we could help HHS find anomalies in the data that would help expose fraudulent claims. We would want to focus on creating a data lake for them that could be leveraged with our graph-based query engine.
The first focus would be administrative – making sure agencies are doing what they are supposed to be doing and are being run efficiently. The second part is mission – ensuring they are effectively delivering services and eliminating fraud and waste.
Q. What are some of the specific benefits for the public by the government incorporating smart data solutions?
There are already some initial open government initiatives that are providing public benefits, such as Data.gov where you can, for instance, download Census Bureau information and manually correlate this with health insurance data to find out the cost of health insurance in your area compared to other regions of the country.
Smart data solutions automate the data correlation. The possibilities are endless as to what kind of data can be made available, how it can be searched, and what benefits it could provide.
A case in point is the Zika virus. With smart data, you might find that there’s a spike in Zika outbreaks in an impoverished area, and that mosquito mitigation and education efforts would need to be focused by public officials there.
Smart data is going to provide new ways for the government to deliver services and information to the citizenry.
To learn more about Smart Data Lakes, download our whitepaper here.