Operating a City in a Big Data Environment

Government leaders need real-time data to make informed decision, as yesterday’s answers can’t respond to today’s questions.

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Covid-19 has significantly affected the way in which cities, states, and countries are conducting their businesses; it has affected the global economy; and has of course had a significant impact on what public services citizens expect from their governments.

Informed decisions should be made based on real-time data. Otherwise, it is not different from answering today’s questions with yesterday’s answers. Policies just can’t catch up with reality.

Big data can provide powerful insights into government operations and improve performance but getting it wrong can lead to unreliable conclusions and poor policy development.

The response to the pandemic has demonstrated that governments can move fast to provide solutions in the short term. Over the next several months, governments will be looking for solutions to help them bring back some form of normality to their operations. Huawei big data technology can help them in that journey.

The Huawei intelligent data solution provides an enterprise-class platform for big data integration, storage, search, and analysis as well as AI. This platform allows enterprises to quickly process massive sets of data and helps enterprises capture opportunities and discover risks by analysing and mining data in a real-time or non-real-time manner.

Legal, ethical, and public acceptance of this key digital transformation initiative will always be a major concern for government leaders. A well-defined strategy should alleviate or at the very least identify a clear way forward.

As society grows more complex, government will continue to face new challenges and opportunities. They must evidently continue to deliver on their missions to provide, protect, and prosper in an ever-changing world.

Enterprises must consider efforts to: revive the economy, manage a pandemic response, keep their citizens safe from crime and terrorism, and develop a new approach to delivering public services. They have a unique opportunity to deliver new, improved, and highly effective public services by developing and implementing real-time data-driven strategies. These strategies enable them to make decisions in real-time – decisions that will be turned into meaningful, measurable, and defendable policies.

To deliver improved services to citizens, governments at every level will be faced with similar set of challenges. They must solve for the complexity of connecting various data sources to deliver impactful and relevant services along with generating meaningful insights for intelligent decision making.

They will also need to explore ways to adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning that are aligned with their data-driven strategy.

Through a well-defined Public services real-time data-focused strategy, governments will be able to identify problems, develop solutions, and manage their responses effectively.

Post Covid-19, it will be necessary for senior leaders to operate more efficiently and make rapid and informed decisions in real-time if they are to successfully increase public trust.

Society is growing more complex. Citizens expect much more from their governments. Digital transformation made it possible for consumers to receive new, improved, and seamless shopping experiences, order meals, or book holidays – but governments have not yet taken the opportunity to fully adopt real-time data-driven strategies.

Public services, citizen engagement, and service delivery operations are also becoming increasingly more complicated. Globally, government agencies are trying to revive their economy, improve healthcare and education, and deliver seamless social services offerings.

Methodology used in the past by governments to evaluate policies and outcomes may no longer be sufficient to move forward. As complexity rises, the world is becoming more interconnected – problems surface from multiple root causes and their effects can affect multiple stakeholders. The inability to assess root causes from different perspectives can restrict the ability of governments to take appropriate actions.

In order to advance key initiatives, governments will be required to break down barriers between agencies and focus on data sharing. Advances in computing power are opening up new possibilities for integrating systems, improving data holdings, and using state-of-the-art analytics.

As society becomes increasingly more complex, government leaders are struggling to integrate these elements into policy, strategy, and execution.

This growing complexity is giving rise to (and is itself partially fuelled by) technology and data. It is here that Huawei and our channel partners can support our customers’ digital transformation journey. We can provide innovative solutions to help government manage, collate, and analyse data to help them be more effective.

Governments are struggling in their attempts to deliver citizen-centric public services at the same level or at the very least near level of that provided by private enterprises. Companies like Amazon have adopted data-driven strategy to enhance the online shopping experience.

Archaic government data architectures will undoubtedly make it increasingly difficult to implement real-time data driven strategies. Government organizations are largely operating in silos and do not necessarily know how to connect information and systems together. Very often data is used for one single purpose.

For years government agencies have collected, stored, and used data for one specific purpose or initiative. Due to a lack of a data-driven strategy – or perhaps short sightedness and apprehension in understanding or challenging data privacy laws and data sharing principles – the value of this data is often locked up in that one database. Through a well-defined strategy, senior leaders can overcome these challenges. Once these are addressed, digital government transformation become a lot easier.

In 2020, many governments around the world have developed and implemented economic stimulus packages to improve their economic outcomes and ensure that citizens are not left unprepared for the nefarious effects of the economic recession caused by the pandemic. These initiatives were in most cases developed rapidly without the ability to use real-time or near real-time data. Although these government initiatives were absolutely critical, they did create unnecessary risks and logistical headaches for public servants and citizens. A well-defined real-time data strategy supported by an appropriate big data platform can help governments reduce their risks.

As such, governments must develop a long-term vision and explore new big data opportunities. Multiple government sectors ranging from social services, taxation, health and education, and public safety could benefit from data-driven strategies. Digital transformation should be seen as a journey and senior leaders should consider the following elements when starting on that wonderful journey.

1. Using legacy data

Governments have access to large amount of data that has been collected and retained over time in accordance with their privacy legislations. They must establish if data can be used for other purposes. One core challenge is that data is normally housed in legacy systems that are not designed for today’s digital journey. They need to consider implementing platforms that can seamlessly integrate both legacy data and new data sources.

2. Collaborative data-sharing amongst stakeholders

Huawei has long promoted Collaborative Public Services. Government agencies have traditionally been taciturn and hesitant in sharing data. Legislations and internal policies are often the root causes for the lack of sharing, but government agencies must be willing to explore these barriers by having a well-developed data-driven strategy.

The lack of willingness for data sharing between agencies is often rooted in the fear that citizens will not support the use of the data. During and Post Covid-19, citizens will expect enhanced digital services from their governments. To alleviate citizens’ concerns, governments must develop comprehensive communication strategies that clearly address data privacy and security. Failure to do so could result in a loss of confidence from their citizens.

Big data is a key pillar of digital transformation in the increasing data driven environment, where a capable platform is necessary to ensure key public services are well supported. This will be discussed in the next story of this series, where we will also look at the challenges ahead.

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