Big Data Analytics in Government: How the Public Sector Leverages Data Insights

big data analytics in government sector

Data is the new gold. Technological advancements and the ever-increasing amount of data are transforming the way business across industries, and in governments as well. Government digital archiving rates and data generation are on the rise. Digital information is expanding and becoming more complex. In turn, this is making information management, storage, security,
processing, and disposition more complex as well. The Federal government, state governments, and the public sector, in general, are becoming increasingly aware of the potential value that can be gained from big data.

What is Big Data?

Simply put, big data are huge volumes of data – both structured and unstructured. However, it is not the amount of data that matters. It is what an organization does with data that is important. Government agencies can leverage big data insights in inventive ways, thanks to technological advancements.

Also Read: How Hadoop Helps Solve the Big Data Problem?

Big Data and Public Management

One of the greatest attributes of big data is its flexibility and universality. Big data can have a huge impact on governments – local, national, and global. Governments must make sense of the enormous amount of data they receive daily and try to make sense out of it to make critical decisions that affect millions of people. Sifting through all the information can be very difficult, let alone verifying the reality of that information. Faulty information can have obnoxious consequences.

Governments can leverage big data and analytics to unlock key information, improve transparency and efficiency in public management. Buy implementing big data platforms government agencies can realize benefits from enhancing the way they utilize IT, discovering new capabilities and services, understanding correlations and trends in underlying data, and improve decision making.

Benefits of Big Data for Federal and State Governments:

The public sector or government services are known for creating and utilizing huge data amounts. Big data provides a chance for government agencies to save public funds. In fact, by using big data effectively, the federal government can save tens of billions per year. Below are the benefits of big data for federal and state governments:

Quick and improved decision making

When trends and other insights locked in Big Data are identified, it becomes easier and faster to make organizational decisions. This is achieved by processing the generated real-time data using streaming tools and other technologies. If these tools are not available, decision making can revert to guesswork or total avoidance of the decision-making process.

Enhanced productivity

The availability of the necessary tools enables all users to work efficiently with big data sets to find information, make informed decisions, and have better service delivery. Better choices in government translate to enhanced services to its citizens.

Improved transparency and cost reduction

Many government tax agencies store personal information, which is replicated in the entire public sector. Citizens are continually required to fill forms to collect data that the government already has. Providing pre-filled forms can help to speed up the processing time and also reducing errors in the collected information.

If data is stored in a central location, it becomes easy for all government agencies to access the information from a shared pool. This also helps in reducing inefficiencies and ensure only correct data is used.

Governments that avail their big data sets allow for a free flow of information, improves transparency, and build trust with their citizens. The citizens understand the data collected by the government and what the government does with it. This transparency allows citizens to monitor the effect of the government’s expenditure and compel the government to spend wisely. Organizations can offer information as a service through processing and sharing of Big Data.

Eliminating fraud, removing waste and abuse

One of the core benefits of Big Data in governments has been eradicating fraud. Also, organizations can remove internal waste by identifying discrepancies. Depending on the missions, the agencies can eradicate abuse and fraud caused by parties or the people they serve.

Reduced crimes and security threats

Big Data can help state government departments in uncovering crimes and other illegal activities that pose a security threat in society. Big Data would also assist local and state governments to work jointly in reducing criminal activities in the community.

Careful analysis of Big Data can aid in spotting abnormal behavioral patterns indicating fraudulent activities. The patterns can be used to come up with profiles and statistical parameters to identify dubious transactions that can then be monitored closely. Applying an information-centric approach build on different data sets helps in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system.

Increase ROI

Big Data is primarily designed to optimize the use of IT systems and enhance the analysis of financial activity. Government agencies that can consolidate their data and analysis tools will immensely reduce infrastructure and operational costs.

Improve mission outcomes

Big Data offers the ability to predict results and model scenarios regarding the data.

Improved emergency response

Big Data analytics can be used to respond to hazardous natural disasters, detect health issues, prevent water scarcity problem, and coordinate thousands of displaced people. For example, Hurricane Maria, analytics was used to determining the areas that needed quick help and better resource allocation.

Identify and reduce inefficiencies

Careful analysis of Big Data helps state agencies and local councils to understand the mistakes they have done in the past.

Workforce effectiveness

Big data can help local governments or other agencies to understand the workforce gaps created when employees leave or retire for their jobs. The agencies can provide smooth operation by ensuring new employees fill the gaps introduced by the retired people.

Applications of Big Data in government

Big Data’s flexibility allows it to be used in different sectors. Through implementing a Big Data platform, government agencies can access large volumes of information which is crucial to its daily functions. Real-time access to this information enables governments to point out areas that need attention, make better and quick decisions, and enact necessary changes. The following are areas where Big Data can be applied in government:


Healthcare is a big issue all over the world. Many health systems rely on government subsidies and support. Therefore, there is the risk of resource wastage or unfair allocation of government subsidies. Big Data gives governments the chance to have a clear picture of where the money is allocated and the reasons behind the allocation. This means the government agencies have better control over resources and their effectiveness to the community.


It is hard to keep track of livestock and the land in a country and also across the globe. It would be a hard task for the government to keep track of the many types of crops grown and livestock kept by its citizens. Big Data can change the way governments manage and support its farmers and their resources. The ability to gather and analyze large volumes
of data makes the management of agriculture easy.


Millions of citizens use public roads every day, whether driving or walking. Many factors contribute to safety on the road, such as the state of the roads, police officers, vehicle safety, and weather conditions. With these factors in play, it is almost impossible to control everything that might lead to an accident. Big Data allows governments to oversee
the transportation sector to ensure safer roads, better and new roads.

Local government agencies can analyze the data acquired from traffic flow on different roads. The analytic tools help in aggregating the real-time traffic data transmitted by road sensors, video cameras, GPS devices. In return, this information allows traffic managers to identify potential threats to road safety. Any identified potential threat to the flow of traffic in urban areas is solved by adjusting public transportation routes in real-time.


Big Data helps the government to understand educational needs on both federal and local levels better.
This ensures the youth have access to the highest quality of education, which would be of great benefit to the country in the future.

Poverty eradication

There is a lot of poverty in the world that many governments have tried to eradicate for many years.
Big Data gives governments the necessary tools to uncover better and innovative ideas on how to reduce poverty levels across the globe. This data makes it easier to identify the areas with urgent need and how to meet those needs.

Government use cases

Weather Forecasting:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continually collects data from sea, land,
and space-based sensors. When you hear a weather forecast about an incoming hurricane or tornado, the data originates from NOAA. The organization uses a Big Data approach to collect and analyze large amounts of data to come up with the right information.

National security:

NSA gets its data processing capability from Big Data. It utilizes Accumulo, which is an open source project designed by NSA and offers users the ability to store data in large tables to boost easy access to information and enhance security. When the agency brings data sets together, it can use Accumulo to investigate various details while preventing access to information that could reveal personal information.

Crime detection and prevention:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that criminals laundered more than $1.6 trillion in 2009 amounting to 2.7% of the GDP. The US Bureau of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the treasury department uses Big Data analysis tool to collect and analyze a large number of bank transactions. This helps in combating money laundering, financing terrorism, and other illegal activities.


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employs a system of intrusion detection for sensors that can analyze internet traffic in and out of Federal systems besides detecting malware and unauthorized access attempts. Big Data analytics are used to identify anomalies and suspicious behavior. The acquired information helps in fighting cybercrime.

Improved service delivery:

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) has implemented Big Data analysis to help in protecting, restoring, and managing the state’s historical, natural, and cultural resources for future generations. The agency has created a shared service inform of a repository that contains every piece of information that might be required by other agencies within the state. This shared pool of information gives insights and analytics to the agency’s stakeholders as well as the general public.


Big Data and analytics offers tremendous benefits to the public. Government agencies can leverage big data insights to deliver effective services to its constituents efficiently.

While it cannot be used to solve every challenge in society today, it is a great step in the right direction. Big Data platforms and analytics can help the government in fighting crime, enhancing transparency, improving transportation, providing better healthcare services, among other benefits. Since many government agencies are aiming to have a more significant digital transformation, Big Data is expected to play a critical role in modernizing the provision of services to the citizenry

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