Last year, McKinsey estimated that applying Big Data in the public sector in Europe could save more than $149 billion in operational efficiency alone. This was excluding the use of Big Data to boost tax collections by reducing fraud and errors. According to the report, Big Data could potentially reduce administrative costs by 15-20 percent, and can bring similar benefits in countries outside Europe also.
With the current state of the economy forcing most countries to cut down on public spending, it is time for Big Data to play a major role in bringing efficiencies into the public sector. With increased pressure to do more with less, governments across the world are trying to increase productivity. Big Data can help public sector agencies focus on areas that yield the best results, thereby making the most of the available resources.
Government data often stays in silos and tend to go underutilized. But with the quality and quantity of data available with them, public sector departments have an advantage in seeing quicker and accurate decisions through Big Data analytics.
Big Data analytics is already being used to prevent tax frauds and take down criminal networks with greater speed and efficiency. For instance, law enforcement agencies in some states in the United States are employing Big Data analytics to fight crime. The Chicago Police Department is partnering a local university to utilize Big Data and predictive analytics. The aim is to predict crime spots and areas so that they can deploy more resources intelligently and efficiently. The New York City Police Department is also partnering with Microsoft to build a similar system.
So, how else can Big Data help the public sector? Government agencies collect a wealth of citizen data regularly. Analyzing this data can help them to improve governance in many ways -- from informing people about eligibility for benefits to risks of developing medical conditions. Analyzing Big Data can also unlock hitherto unseen patterns and bring out deep insights, which can be used to predict policy outcomes, tax revenue and introduce local initiatives, to name a few. The easy availability of high performance computing today makes it possible to obtain all this information in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Big Data is ready to explode with more than 40 billion devices ready to be connected over the next few years. The key for government agencies to make the best use of this data explosion is to identify the specific questions that Big Data can answer and the specific public sector activities that it can improve.