Data, Economic Development

Why GovData Matters

“Data – a collection of facts (numbers, words, measurements, observations, etc) that has been translated into a form that computers can process”

No matter what walk of life you come from, it cannot be argued that data, and its numerous applications, shapes your daily life. Whether it’s using aggregated review scores on Google to determine where next date night’s dinner is or if it’s analyzing health and activity metrics using our smartphones’ sensors, data impacts all of us.

It’s also true that the effects of data on our lives aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. The term “Big Data” has been added to our vocabulary in the past decade or so, and refers to especially large and complex data sets, often from sources that weren’t available to us only a few short years ago. Big Data has become a very trendy buzzword in the fast-paced enterprise business world, and with good reason.

Why Bother with Data?

Data collection, and subsequent analysis, provides an organization with the quality information they need to make informed decisions, stay on top of trends, provide answers to problems, and analyze new insights to greater effect. In a sense, it allows leaders to make decisions using the knowledge of current drivers of transformation and performance, rather than relying on outdated reports highlighting past results from previous problems.

The implications and impact of having a well-thought-out Data Policy in an organization can’t be understated. It’s increasingly becoming a key differentiator in what separates an innovative and successful organization from one that isn’t.

Present-Day Impact

So the question is, if data collection and analysis is so powerful, why isn’t data playing a larger role in governmental policy and decision making?

Well, in some governments it’s making a significant impact. And since you’re reading a Townfolio article, it’s likely you have some role to play in government or economic policy, so play close attention to this next part.

According to McKinsey & Co., digitizing information, disseminating public data sets and applying analytics to improve decision making, governments around the world can act as catalysts for more than $3 trillion in economic value.

How to Deploy Data

How might a data policy help a government accomplish such staggering savings? Well, it might take a full series of blog articles to discuss that in detail, but there are multiple examples of data helping goverments to i) increase private sector employment ii) attract new regional investment iii) improve workforce quality iv) improve the well-being of constituents and v) increase graduation rates.

Now that we’ve highlighted some of the avenues data collection and analysis can be applied to, it’s clear to see how important an asset data is becoming. In the coming years, the application of data science – that is, the ability to extract knowledge from large and complex data sets – for all levels of government in their attempts to manage operations efficiently and improve the well-being of their constituents.

What’s Next

There are roadblocks along the way, of course. Managing, extracting, and sorting viable insights from colossal data sets is often stalled by data silos, antiquated data management infrastructures, and a lack of data governance, processes, or tools.

However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that governments can no longer ignore the power and capabilities of data science. External forces, like demand for greater transparency and cost-efficiencies are driving governments to re-examine how their data is being utilized.

One more positive note in favour of data science for government – governments collect and have access to staggering amounts of data on its citizens! And in turn, as citizens we expect our governments to manage and analyze that data, then deploy it in ways that will benefit the general public and facilitate government transparency.

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I hope I’ve done an alright job in making the case for why data science is important at the governmental level. Interested, but not sure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Townfolio is the leader in data as a science for Canadian governments of all levels. If you’re interested in learning more about Townfolio and our data sciences as a service, you can reach out to me through this link for a one-on-one demonstration of our platform.