From Bytes to Better Policies: Big Data Analytics in Government Systems

Data, in today’s world, is omnipresent and omnipotent, making it one of the most valuable resources – or even a form of valuable currency – for organizations in the public and private sectors. The private sector has quickly adapted and transformed its business practices with big data – the practice of gathering, storing, and analyzing datasets too huge for traditional data management processing applications – for enhanced efficiency. Governments are also trying to embrace digital transformation to improve operational efficiency and offer a consumer-like experience to the citizens. And big data analytics can play a significant role.

Also Read: Digital Transformation Benefits for Government

What is Big Data in (and for) the Government?

Big data in government refers to the influx of data (volume, velocity, variety, veracity, value) that agencies can utilize to improve governance, develop better policies, manage the public sector initiatives more effectively, and offer more efficient services to the citizens. This data can be unstructured, semi-structured or structured in nature coming from myriad of sources, including internal systems, external partner agencies, communication with the citizens, research & surveys, etc. Additionally, data from commercial entities and academia can also contribute to big data for the government and help authorities to achieve better outcomes towards serving their constituents.

It aims to help Government agencies in rethinking of the key demand patterns as relates to building a data driven economy that enables increased competencies on digital services across organization to reimagine their business. Harnessing the power of Big Data and analytics across the value chain further enables to democratize the use of advanced data science, and effectively plan for the future of the business by making data and intelligence at the center of everything.

Hence., the focus of big data in government today is to transform the legacy data storage and analytics processes to pave the path for modernizing the existing systems and scaling analytics. This includes everything from digitizing and codifying old paper records to building modern, cloud based platforms, micro-services oriented and scalable, secure and cost efficient infrastructure and migrating to agile, next-gen analytics tools to scale and do more with AI & Machine learning to derive better, faster, actionable data driven insights for uniform decision-making at all levels.

How can Governments use Big Data?

Governments and other public sector institutions now have access to a huge volume of data that can define a variety of use cases within their geopolitical ecosystems. Individual cities, municipalities, states and even organizations operating at the federal or international levels are finding relevant data analytics applications to tackle new business priorities & respond to the dynamic market trends.

  • Open data initiatives play a significant role in creating new levels of accountability, promoting innovative and effective use of big data, and supporting different Health and Human Services (HHS) initiatives nationwide.
  • The onus to protect its citizens from any threats is on the government. Big data can help governments defend their integrity, protect their citizens, and enforce governance in today’s data economy.
  • Government can ensure public safety with big data analytics using the data collected from law enforcement body cameras and dash cameras, CCTV and traffic cameras around cities, information from public outreach, and data from the private IT sector.
  • Governments can use accurate statistics on vehicle safety, driver behavior, and accidents to provide better transportation and city infrastructure and launch more effective road safety programs for the citizens.
  • City, state, and national authorities are leveraging big data analytics to combat persistent public health concerns, manage dangerous misinformation, and build more efficient public health programs and social policies to benefit the entire population.
  • Governments are now embracing big data to understand the interaction of their citizens with nature and available resources to develop initiatives and policies that can help educate people about environmental protection, minimize the use of utilities and other natural resources, and effectively predict and plan an emergency response for natural disasters.

Applications of Big Data in Government

Big data and big data analytics are extremely versatile and can find applications across many domains and settingsto address problems directly from the source as well as analytics for deeper insights thatcan support well-informed decision-making. As a result, big data analytics in the government can find applications in the following areas:

Area Applications
  • Transforming towards equitable and value based healthcare, reducing cost of care and delivering superior quality of care
  • Providing greater insight into high risk patient cohorts, and enabling evidence based and proactive approach to prevention and better management of overall population health
  • Predicting healthcare delivery services utllization patterns for load balancing, capacity planning and service management during public health crisis/epidemics
  • Enabling precision performance & sustainable agriculture practices
  • Computer vision, Deep supervised learning to identify diseases and pests in crops and alert farmers
  • Driving efficiency across distribution networks with intelligent insights on multi-source and multi-modal data- to manage crops and boost production to meet population growth & food need.
  • Gain real-time insights into traffic conditions
  • Identify and respond to potential threats to road safety
  • Model traffic conditions for better transportation infrastructure development
  • Get a better understanding of the educational needs of students at local and federal levels
  • Improve evaluation and progress tracking of students
Poverty Eradication
  • Data mining on spending patterns, electricity (GIS data) for estimating indicators for income levels
  • Addressing hunger risk by analysis of food access data, nutrition level (household surveys), online food prices, health records
  • Verify information accuracy to identify potential fraud
  • Use predictive analytics to maximize tax collection
Open Government
  • Segment citizens to build tailored public services
  • Undertake sentiment analysis to understand citizens’ interests, opinions, and needs
  • Improve the accuracy of financial forecasts
  • Improve cybersecurity
  • Understand voter preferences to build effective election campaigns
Smart Cities
  • Automate processes to provide better services to citizens
  • Increase public participation in government initiatives
  • Promote economic growth
  • Improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emission
  • Improve emergency service response for citizen security
Weather Forecasting
  • Collect and analyze data from sensors – on land, at sea, and in space (satellite sensors) – to accurately forecast natural events like hurricanes or tornados
National Security
  • Bring together data from different sources to identify potential threats (internal or external) and take appropriate action
Crime Detection and Prevention
  • Effectively combat various illegal activities, like money laundering or terrorism financing
  • Use predictive analytics to anticipate crime trends and take preventive actions
  • Detect malware and access attempts from malicious agents
  • Monitor internet traffic to identify anomalies and suspicious behavior
Service Delivery/Public welfare services
  • Analyze data (e.g mobile network) to forecast population density, urbanization and migration patterns of people and derive insights to inform agencies where to deploy services such as water, schools, health posts, fire safety, risk of infection spread etc.
  • Assess trends/outcomes in development programs to predict future increases in problems- medical, food assistance request, education etc.

Advantages of Big Data for Government

With a wide range of applications and uses, big data analytics also have numerous advantages for the government. In addition to understanding citizen needs, improving operations, and combating fraud, effective use of big data analytics can help local, state, and federal governments can save billions of dollars annually. Some of the major big data benefits for government agencies include:

  • Improved decision-making, enhanced productivity, and better services for citizens with access to real-time data insights.
  • Improved transparency into government’s data collection and usage policies to build citizen trust. And as governments make data accessible to the public, citizens can hold government officials accountable for the impact of various policy expenditures, motivating them to spend resources wisely and, in turn, contributing to cost reduction.
  • Assess trends/outcomes in development programs to predict future increases in problems- medical, food assistance request, education etc.
  • Quick identification of any anomalies or discrepancies to identify fraud attempts, a potential waste of resources, or abuse of government resources by malicious parties to take necessary corrective action.
  • Reduced crime rates and security threats via proactive action against abnormal behavior or suspicious activities.
  • Improved mission outcomes in natural disasters or health emergencies as data driven insights can support efficient emergency response planning.
  • A better understanding of the gaps in the workforce to develop effective educational programs and recruitment strategies.

Challenges and Myths of Big Data in the Government

Although the applications and benefits of big data analytics for government agencies are clear – and many are becoming more data-driven, many government agencies are still struggling to adapt and implement a data-forward approach. Among the many hurdles in the way, some of the major adoption challenges of big data analytics in the government are:

  • IT departments of government bodies and public sector organizations are often understaffed and operate outdated legacy systems, making it difficult to adopt big data analytics.
  • Ensuring the data quality and integrity of thousands of applications and paper records is a big challenge. Consequently, data integration and data sharing also becomes a hurdle to adopting big data analytics.
  • Government agencies may struggle to justify investment in IT infrastructure and big data technologies. Additionally, with the evolving prices of many cloud platforms, they may be abandoning the data migration and digitization efforts.
  • Government systems are often riddled with security vulnerabilities, requiring additional efforts to ensure stringent cybersecurity measures and data privacy regulatory compliance.
  • Political opposition and an organizational culture that resists change are often the biggest hindrances regarding legacy modernization and adopting advanced analytics.

One of the biggest myths regarding legacy modernization in government agencies is that adopting big data analytics and advanced analytics means disruption that public sector organizations cannot afford. However, non-invasive strategies like refactoring, re-engineering, and re-hosting can help you retain your rich organizational knowledge and help you leverage the power of data without affecting continuity.


Data is the most valuable resource which government agencies can no longer ignore. And as public sector organizations are attempting to adopt a consumer outlook in programs they build for citizens, building successful big data and analytics capabilities is a must. Data analytics in the public sector is now more important than ever to modernize government services and develop data-driven policies to benefit the general public. Leverage the ever-increasing amount of data as it becomes available and become insight-driven with Infosys Data Analytics to become more resilient and turn your data into actionable insights for developing effective governance systems and building robust policies that benefit every citizen.

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Author Details

Dr. Suman De, Head of Government Healthcare Analytics, Infosys Public Services
Dr. Suman De

He has extensive experience in the public healthcare sector and previously worked for the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Indian Public Health Association. At Infosys, Dr. De leads the area of advanced data science and artificial intelligence-enabled population health, social determinants of health analytics, opioid management, care management, and value-based care.