Data Hubs, Digital Tools Power Dynamic Change For Government Agencies

Regina Kunkle

Too often, government organizations are organized in silos. Departments and agencies have their own processes, organizing systems, and measurements.

This creates significant inefficiencies. When agencies need to collaborate or use data from other agencies to solve issues, the challenges can be significant when each one uses a different data tracking and management system.

The public suffers as a result of these dysfunctions. Services are not as efficient, communication and coordination are less effective, and positive outcomes are harder to achieve.

Breaking down silos

Imagine a different model in which collaboration happens within, across, and outside of organizations. This collaboration leads to value creation.

Imagine if your government organization could access data from multiple sources and departments organized for security, distribution, and sharing. Picture a network that is not connected to only a small number of suppliers for things like travel, services, personnel, and goods. Instead consider a vertical network connected to other vertical networks in real time.

With digital transformation changing so many industries, such innovative solutions are now possible. Government organizations that embrace this digital shift are poised to become more effective. Constituent services will become exponentially more efficient and will deliver valuable enhancements. The quality of life within communities served will improve by leaps and bounds.

Today, trillions of dollars of commerce moves through these various organizational silos. Thousands of public organizations are trying to innovate on their own. What’s lost is the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people.

Digital drivers

There are several key drivers to this digital transformation, and public organizations are seeing some benefits already. But there is so much more potential.

The first driver is the growth of social media, which allows people around the world to connect and communicate with each other. The second is the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is the vast number of connected devices, assets, and objects that are outfitted with sensors, software, and wireless connections. These devices can track, record, and send data while communicating with other devices. Additionally, new technology is now available that can help make sense of massive volumes of data. Powerful analytics programs tied to these databases empower cross-agency stakeholders with the same insights in real time, resulting in better data-driven decisions. That leads to the fourth driver — networks — that allow collaborators to work on shared data sets, analyze the data, and communicate in real time.

Power from data hubs

With information stored in connected data hubs, governments can remove the traditional siloed organizational structures.

Let’s look at a couple examples of how data hubs are transforming government organizations.

The state of Indiana wants to address several key issues facing its population. The first is infant mortality, which stood at 7.7 deaths per 1,000 births. However, 50 percent of those deaths came from 1.6 percent of all births.

The second issue is to prevent released prisoners from returning to jail by giving ex-convicts the best chance at success. In addition, state leaders are looking at data to discover the best ways to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and the level of opiate use.

The problem for many government agencies has been that they often made decisions based on hunches or educated guesses. There was little data to back up or drive decisions, policies, and programs. Agencies had to work through time-consuming processes to request data, and as a result, much of the data was static or outdated.

Indiana’s state leaders wanted to make data-driven decisions, but they lacked the tools to make that happen. Agencies continued to think about information as “their data” rather than “everyone’s data.”

The solution was to simplify.

By creating a management and performance hub, the state opted for a citizen-centric IT solution, with residents at the core of all interactions. Data is now seen as a powerful way to improve citizens’ lives. With data from multiple agencies collected in one centralized area, there is more opportunity and ability to work together.

Agencies are now collaborating in real time to identify and solve problems. Limited budget dollars can be spent more wisely.

Already the data hub has played a role in solving three of the problems listed above. For example, officials used it to identify a segment of at-risk mothers, and agencies discovered possible solutions for better prenatal care and education.

The hub also allowed the state to build a network of rehabilitation centers and nonprofit organizations focused on ex-convicts. Better collaboration let those groups and the government focus better on ex-cons’ needs and status in adjusting to society.

Finally, data accessed through the hub helped pinpoint roads with high accident rates so workers could install more highway bumpers in those locations.

Other examples

The state of Indiana’s data hub is just one example of many collaborations that are fueled by digital drivers.

In September 2015, for example, the city of Philadelphia was preparing for a visit by Pope Francis. The city created a new regulatory framework and partnered with AirBnB to market and provide accommodations to bolster the area’s 11,200 hotel rooms.

In 2015, 78 percent of public sector agencies reported using hosted or cloud-based services to drive efficiency, improve flexibility, and reduce costs. That rate was up from 38 percent in 2010.

Conclusion

In a digitally connected world, silos are becoming obsolete. Systems, devices, and computing allow for collaborations that were not technically possible just a few years ago. The power of data hubs lets agencies connect and collaborate to improve lives.

Read about more about SAP’s perspective on digital government here.


Regina Kunkle

About Regina Kunkle

Regina Kunkle is responsible for the State and Local/Higher Education (SLED), as sub-industry of the U.S. public sector industry, at SAP. Regina is dedicated to helping governments transform to respond to changing regulations and citizen needs, streamline and simplify processes, and share vital information across agencies for enhanced decision making and performance.