Sometimes, government data seems like the ocean – there is water everywhere but not a drop to drink. How can agencies use their vast stockpiles of data to reach their goals more easily?
Data analytics can quench agencies’ thirst for actionable insights, but only if they treat this information as a strategic asset first. To do so, agencies need workplace cultures that embrace data analytics across their people, processes and technology.
On Tuesday, during GovLoop’s latest online training, two government thought leaders explained how cloud computing can unlock data’s value for agencies. The pair included:
- Taka Ariga, Chief Data Scientist and Director of the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Innovation Lab
- Kim Majerus, Vice President, U.S. State & Local Government and Education at Amazon Web Services (AWS) Worldwide Public Sector, an on-demand cloud computing platform provider.
Ariga and Majerus detailed three steps agencies can take to reach their mission objectives using cloud-based data analytics:
1. Pick problems to solve
Data has never been more prevalent, so agencies must zero in on the correct information about the challenges that they are facing. The agencies who do not narrow their focus may waste valuable energy, funding and time.
“You have to start from the problem and work your way backwards,” Majerus said. “The data is there. You have to organize it and put it to work.”
2. Educate employees
Data cannot help people who do not understand it, and public-sector employees are no exception. Ariga suggested that agencies invest in literacy and training programs to ensure that everyone comprehends data.
“All of this great data science work is for naught if you don’t have a workforce that is capable of understanding all this data coming in,” he said.
Why does data literacy matter? Data literacy can help agencies skip painful headaches involving issues like security.
“If we’re not able to answer questions around accuracy and transparency, there might be impacts downstream,” Ariga said.
3. Take advantage of technology
Unfortunately, many organizations treat technology as the solution to their problems. Yet many technologies have multiple capabilities, so agencies should leverage the functions that best fit their missions.
Take the cloud, which can let agencies utilize computing resources like data storage at will. Before storing data in the cloud, agencies must consider how to store this information.
“The technology is the easy part,” Majerus said. “It is not about moving the data to the cloud but really harnessing that data once it is in the cloud.”
Overall, cloud-based analytics can help agencies make sense of their data and focus on meeting the public’s needs.
“What are the insightful questions that you should be asking the dataset?” Majerus asked. “You just have to get better at asking those questions.”
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