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Technology’s Role in Powering Open Data Initiatives

Below is an excerpt from GovLoop’s latest guide, Capitalizing on the Open Data Revolution. You can access the full guide here.

Recently, Audie Hittle, federal chief technology officer, Isilon Storage Division, EMC Corporation, sat down with GovLoop to discuss how data can transform the federal government.

GovLoop: How do you see big data and open data impacting government?

Hittle: If our federal government can truly implement a more transparent and open environment that leverages the proven insights and efficiencies available from big data, I’m really optimistic that the impact can be truly transformational. I think we’re now just scratching the surface of what is possible if our government continues to invest appropriately in these technologies that can generate such dramatic returns on investment.

As an example, we have implemented EMC’s Isilon solutions in certain environments where we’ve been able to reduce manpower and staffing requirements by around 90 percent due to Isilon’s built-in intelligence and automation. That’s a tremendous return on investment on manpower and staffing alone, which is one of the highest areas of interest and demand across the federal government.

If we can do that, there’s no reason to believe big data’s impact will be anything less than transformational.

GovLoop: What do you see as some of the challenges with big data?

Hittle: According to the MeriTalk survey, “The Big Data Cure,” – which surveyed 150 federal executives focused on health care and health care research – many agencies are not yet taking steps to prepare for the influx of data. Less than one in five say that their agency is prepared to work with big data, and only roughly a third have invested in IT systems or solutions to optimize data processing or invested in the training of IT professionals to manage and analyze big data.

Meanwhile, new mobile technologies are emerging that are demanding agencies to prepare for the future – like mHealth and machine-to-machine solutions. I’m seeing that agencies are highly interested in these capabilities, but they must also take on the cybersecurity, governance and compliance challenges to fully reap the associated big data benefits.

GovLoop: How can EMC help organizations leverage big data and open data?

Hittle: When it comes right down to it, EMC is a truly innovative company with extremely creative people and a vast federated product portfolio. This translates into options and opportunities for customers and partners who are just beginning to explore or preparing to do a deep dive into big data and open data.

EMC offers solutions that range from on-site or remote training and consultations, to fully integrated converged solutions, which can be designed with the client, manufactured and configured off-site, and then delivered, set up and operational in a matter of hours – like our VCE Converged Infrastructure solutions. And, the ultimate in operational flexibility of Isilon is truly a breakthrough when it comes to creating a collaboration environment for any federal agency.

GovLoop: Can you share case studies of work you have done with the public sector?

Hittle: One example from an open data perspective is an initiative called research.data.gov. When I was on active duty in the Air Force, I served on the executive board of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for technology transfer, and one of the biggest challenges we had then was creating awareness and getting the word out on the technologies and technology trends for opportunities associated with our nation’s 700-plus federal laboratories. As of June 2014, under the Open Data Initiative, research.data.gov provides machine-readable data on these 700-plus research and development facilities and gives access to over $100 billion annually in federally funded research, development and manufacturing techniques that may be used by the public, entrepreneurs and innovators to explore, prototype and test new technologies.

From a U.S. citizen’s/federal taxpayer’s perspective, big data and its associated analytics are already having a major impact. According to the May 2014 White House big data report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have begun using predictive analytics software to flag likely instances of reimbursement fraud before claims are made. This is also happening at the Internal Revenue Service, and in the Medicare and Medicaid and health care area, this has reportedly already saved over $115 million in fraudulent payments and is reportedly saving $3 for every $1 invested in the program in the first year alone. Some studies project that such proactive fraud analytics could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars per year and freeing-up funding for other vital initiatives.

GovLoop: Any additional case studies you could share?

Hittle: As another example, EMC works with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The CIO, Navy Lt. William Walders, is definitely one to watch – a terrific individual, really on the ball.

I had an opportunity to meet him at the May 2014 EMC World and sit in on his presentation – his initiatives and case study examples are incredible. As is the case with a majority of healthcare organizations, his is facing massive big data challenges – working to maximize valuable insights across IT, within budget, in a combined 32 hospitals, with roughly 250 IT staff.

His team manages the local data collection, as well as remote petabytes of active archive data that is being used to store data to support analytics and access to support clinical operations. Lt. Walders is extending that much more aggressively into the realm of mobile health care and also machine-to-machine types of activities.

For instance, information can be collected from mobile wristbands and fed right back into data collection facilities within the hospital or organization. In some cases they are able to affect clinical appointments in near real time. They are also able to update information in those individuals’ records so that they can be advised or counseled appropriately regarding their health care, their physical training regime, appointments and so forth to become more proactive. I think that’s an awesome use case and great example that will garner a lot of attention and provide a lot of insight into how big data in particular is capitalizing on some of the new technologies to support the health care environment.

With EMC’s help, you can break through your data challenges and use data to drive improved decisions.


To learn more about open data and case studies from data.gov, the FDA and the Department of Commerce, be sure to check out GovLoop’s latest guide, Capitalizing on the Open Data Revolution.



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