Smarter Government

5 Steps to Enhance Your Big Data Analytics Roadmap

A roadmap that could help you maximize the use of big data analytics.
by | September 5, 2014

Governments at all levels are using big data analytics to get their arms around the information acquired, created and maintained by public agencies and jurisdictions. The beauty of big data analytics is that it can have a far-reaching impact on almost all areas of government. Early adopters are using analytics to see deeper into their own operations and understand the wider societal impacts. With new insights, they are becoming more efficient, reducing costs (or at least keeping them constant), and becoming more responsive as services are more targeted and relevant. For instance:

  • A large national medical and social benefits organization used big data analytics, including ad hoc queries of more than 70 data sources, to reduce the time it took to conduct analyses from weeks to just four hours. More than $140 million in improper payments were immediately identified.
  • A regional tax authority, which processes more than 24 million business and personal tax returns and collects more than $90 billion in tax revenues annually, deployed big data analytics to help it better determine which cases should be audited and investigated before refunds were issued. Initial results in the first year included a 7 percent increase in collected tax revenue and the recovery of $83 million in delinquent taxes.
  • A police department in one of the largest cities in the world is using big data analytics to redefine how information is used to fight crime. The system analyzes and integrates all information assets in real time across structured and unstructured data sources to facilitate faster and more appropriate responses. New comprehensive insights can now reach detectives while they are on the scene, rapidly identify repeat offenders, and quickly detect trends that enable resources to be deployed faster and more efficiently.

Big data analytics could help enable discoveries based on wide varieties of and large volumes of data, some of which governments may not anticipate in advance. It allows for iterative and exploratory analyses that provide governments with much more flexibility to explore options and ask a wider range of questions.

By its very name, big data is expansive. It can easily seem overwhelming but that should not prevent you from starting the journey. The suggested 5-step roadmap below could help you maximize the use of big data analytics.

Graphic adapted from The TechAmerica Foundation Big Data Commission’s “Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide to Transforming the Business of Government.”

  1. Define the use case or set of use cases that will be part of the initial big data deployment. The goals should start with projects that can deliver the greatest value in the shortest timeframe. It is important to plan for how to expand over time.
  2. Assess available data and technical capabilities, and determine what additional data or capabilities are required to satisfy the defined set of business and mission requirements.
  3. Plan for deployment by determining what big data entry points the project will emphasize; what deployment pattern is best to support the entry points; which existing IT investments can be integrated rather than building new systems; and how security, privacy and policy requirements will be met. This can form the basis of a technical architecture that will support the current project, and scale for future projects.
  4. Execute the planned project by deploying elements of a big data platform based on your plan and architecture. Iterate as you need to and keep future projects in mind to help ensure the platform is flexible.
  5. Review and report on roadmap steps throughout the process and adjust plans based on findings and lessons learned by an iterative deployment process. Assess cost and timeline results and measure return on investment to assist with planning future projects and reporting on fiscal responsibility.

For more information, download the following resources:

White Paper, "Addressing government challenges with big data analytics"

Video, Solving Challenges with Big Data and Analytics – Government

And bookmark the Smarter Government hub at

IBM  |  Published as a part of the Smarter Government initiative.  |

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