Few organizations manage data sets that are as massive, diverse and sensitive as the federal government. From law enforcement to financial data to healthcare and education information, the explosive growth of data has forced agencies to focus on ways to use it as a strategic asset.
Agencies are searching for an optimal approach that enables them to better manage, analyze and secure their data while also reducing costs. The President’s Management Agenda even highlights a Federal Data Strategy centered on governing enterprise data; developing policies to allow for access, use and augmentation of data assets; and using data more effectively.
To make the most of their data, agencies need an ecosystem of capabilities. For example, to have a successful data analytics project, agencies need the infrastructure to store their data and the ability to scale their data storage to meet growing capacity needs. Agencies also need the ability to explore trends and patterns, set data governance policies and secure sensitive data across on-premise and cloud environments.
In order to support these efforts, agencies must have the right infrastructure. That’s where data warehouses come in. A data warehouse is an integrated database of information designed to enable easier analytics and research. Companies like AlphaSix specialize in designing, implementing, and supporting big data analytics for federal agencies. It also assists organizations with cybersecurity services and solutions to protect the vast amount of data agencies are generating.
“A data warehouse provides the building blocks for an analytics project,” Mark Hughes, Vice President of Strategic Programs at AlphaSix, told GovLoop. “The key is to put your data into a warehouse and get it into a format that you can use traditional tools like SQL that allow you to go in and search and analyze the data. Our role is not to analyze the data but to provide the analyst with tools so they can analyze the data for themselves.”
For example, a federal healthcare agency wanted deeper insights into occupational health and safety issues. The wealth of data that the agency had on those topics all existed in siloes, and the agency grappled with the challenge of consolidating, cataloging and publishing data from its various labs that lacked a unified data storage method.
“Not having access to data can really be detrimental to the overall mission of government,” said Stephen Moore, Vice President of Engineering at AlphaSix. “It’s always a challenge of making the data appropriately available to the people that need to access it but then keeping people that don’t need access from being able to see it.”
AlphaSix created a data warehouse for the agency that allows users to access previously unavailable data in a collaborative environment.
“We provided storage to each of these groups where data will become centralized, and we can add governance, security and auditing,” Moore said. “You know who’s putting data in, who’s doing what with it and then there’s a better framework for bringing more advanced analytics to bear.”
Once the warehouse was built, users across the agency could take the data they already had and make better sense of it.
“Managing big data is easier through a custom turnkey solution,” Hughes said. “There is no one solution that works for everybody. At AlphaSix we understand the tools and have the experience and expertise in doing the upfront planning. We know the right questions to ask to discern a customer’s needs and then design a custom solution to accomplish it. “We act as an integrator and bring the vendors, infrastructure and software components to the table, giving agencies one vendor to deal with and ‘one neck to choke.’”
To learn more about data warehouses and how AlphaSix can help your agency, visit alphasixcorp.com.