This blog post is an excerpt from our recent report with Splunk, How State & Local Governments Harness Data to Become a Smart Community. To read the full report, head here.
The backbone of a smart community is data. Successful service delivery, performance insights and efficiency improvements at scale are obtained by collecting data across various relevant sources and deriving intelligence through real-time analytics. The result is unprecedented insights and situational awareness that can be used to meet community-wide priorities, including citizen engagement, business growth, disaster response, public safety and more.
A truly smart community is one that can avail the right technologies to manage its assets more effectively and efficiently. In this type of environment, government employees are able to move from tactical and repetitive tasks to strategic and value-added roles. Additionally, community residents benefit in a variety of ways, whether through safer, quicker and more productive commutes or higher levels of constituent services.
Many agencies are already making strides toward using data and analytics to drive various initiatives. But the reality is that most state and local governments are still hampered in these efforts by legacy infrastructures, reduced budgets, increased cyberthreats, and short-term planning. And silos of operations and disconnected initiatives have led to investments in myopic solutions instead of strategic planning and a holistic approach. So when change does happen, it’s only in siloed areas and benefits are limited, making community or agency wide impacts both difficult and expensive.
“A smart community itself is a vision,” said Sankar. “But a smart community is not a vague and distant notion with little possibility of becoming reality. The fact is that the vision of a smart community is coming true every day – but only in pockets which fall short of the real benefits and promises.”
To make this vision a reality, state and local governments need to embrace modern technologies that guarantee efficiencies, automate tedious and time-consuming tasks, cut across silos to harness the power of the collective and scale across their infrastructures. They need reliable and secure networks and infrastructure to collect, store and analyze data from across their infrastructure in all their types and formats.
But there are serious obstacles. The data being generated today across a community, especially with smart sensors and IoT devices, is voluminous, fast and non-standard. Traditional analytics solutions often either require a pre-defined data model, which is expensive, difficult to generate and requires iteration, or only collect data focused on specific initiatives – and by doing so miss the bigger picture.
More importantly, many solutions don’t scale to meet real-time demands. “In a smart community, data needs to be collected in real-time and aggregated and correlated for use right away,” Brady explained. “The insights derived during analysis play a big part in unearthing hidden patterns and potential insights that were not imagined before. That’s why when data is collected in silos or different departments, it presents a large hurdle on the path to becoming a smart community.”