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Data-as-a-Utility: A New Era for the Public Sector

You may not necessarily think of data as a utility. It’s not as easy to see streams of data directly in front of you as it is to see the water in the Hoover Dam or the telephone lines running across your neighborhood skyline.

But consider the similarities: A resource such as gas or electricity is not something consumers necessarily think much about until it is delivered to an endpoint at their house and accessed with a flip of a light switch or a turn of a faucet. And whether you understand it or not, it is increasingly becoming the same way with data. Consumers want to get services on their mobile devices and convert those services into something useful. They may not think about data in specifics — the ones and zeros — or how it gets to them, but they understand the power behind it. They also know that when it is delivered in an accessible format, like water through a faucet, they then can do something useful with it.

The fact is, data is as important today as any resource that you access on a day-to-day basis. It solves problems, helps you make smarter investments, and increases transparency and trust. And consumers are clamoring for more of it, expecting to be able to access it whenever they want, however they want.

It is the government’s responsibility to use the asset of data to drive better decisions, provide innovative services and enable fact-based decision-making in ways that will fundamentally transform 21st-century society.

That’s why GovLoop has partnered with Socrata, an industry leader in cloud solutions for open data and data-driven governments, to write this industry perspective.

Socrata believes firmly that the public sector must treat data today as more than an afterthought or a “nice to have” piece of information. In order to improve quality of life and services to their citizens, governments must treat data as a resource, just like they would water or electricity. They must provide an infrastructure around it and make it accessible to the public.

In short, today is the era of data-as-a-utility, and it is time for the public sector to act.