Today, technology is a critical component to transform and modernize government to truly create a 21st century government. For our year-end report, the GovLoop team set out to explore what technology trends shaped 2012 to help agencies meet organizational goals. The report also includes best practices, case studies, and identifies which trends will shape government technology in 2013. This post will highlight one of those core trends, big data.
The report below includes a survey from 250 members of the GovLoop community, and interviews with Bernie Mazer, Chief Information Officer, Department of the Interior, Jim Ropelewski, Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Education, Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA and Malcolm Jackson, Chief Information Officer, Environmental Protection Agency. Be sure to check out the entire report below and related resources on the guide landing page.
Govies Use Big Data to Predict Crime and Manage Spaceflight Imagery
Big data has been a hot topic this year, with many individuals and organizations discussing what it is and how best to use it in their particular industry or agency. Though big data is voluminous, fast-moving, complex, and often requires investing time and resources, government has made effective use of it. Below are two examples of how government has successfully used big data for two very different purposes – to predict and prevent crime, and to manage a spaceflight imagery collection.
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In the summer of 2011, the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) began a six-month pilot project, using large datasets and a complex algorithm – based on the same model used to predict earthquake aftershocks – to try to predict and prevent crime.
The process used by police officials in Santa Cruz is pretty straightforward. According to Zach Friend, crime analyst with SCPD, “We’re inputting data into this algorithm and producing hotspot maps that tell our officers where to patrol, hopefully to help prevent crimes before they occur.” Hot spots, Friend noted, are 500 foot by 500 foot areas in which the probability of crime occurring is higher than in any other locations. Once hotspots are determined, officers are sent to patrol these areas, during time periods when crime is most likely to occur.
SCPD’s use of the system has had positive effects. Without adding more officers to the streets or changing beats and shift times, SCPD realized a 19 reduction in property theft when comparing crime statistics from the first six months of 2012 to the same timeframe in 2011, before the advanced analytics and prediction technology was being used. 
Human Spaceflight Imagery Collection
The Information Resources Directorate (IRD) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) is responsible for managing the human spaceflight imagery collection, one of the largest archives of its kind in the world. Images are used by industry and the general public to educate and entertain. The collection currently contains “over 4 million still images, 9.5 million feet of 16mm motion picture film, over 85,000 video tapes and files representing 81,616 hours of video in analog and digital formats,” and is growing exponentially. 
JSC’s efforts to collect and manage imagery data led to the creation of the first green photo processing system in the federal government, as well as an imagery organizational structure, after which both FEMA and FAA’s programs are modeled.  JSC has successfully collected and catalogued data for quite some time while meeting both federal and agency requirements for records retention and archiving.
What to expect?
Given the investments made by the federal government as well as the ever expanding pool of Big Data success stories, we can expect that agencies will begin and/or continue to examine how Big Data might be useful in their work and start making investments in the technology and staff necessary to take full advantage of Big Data’s potential.
The GovLoop Guide: Government Technology Year in Review
|Agile Government||Cloud Technology||Turning Data into Power||Expansion of Mobility||Social Government|
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 Heaton, Brian. 2012. “Predictive Policing a Success in Santa Cruz, Calif.” http://www.govtech.com/public-safety/Predictive-Policing-a-Success-in-Santa-Cruz-Calif.html
 Tech America Foundation. 2012. http://www.techamericafoundation.org/content/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Final-Big-Data-Case-Study-NASA-Human-Spaceflight-Imagery.pdf