How Big Data Saves Money and Lives


With the advent of Big Data, politics as usual may never be the same. According to a survey of nearly 200 public IT officials in the United States, 87% of federal officials and 75% of state officials believe that the use of real-time Big Data will save a significant number of lives each year. The new study, released by the TechAmerica Foundation and commissioned by SAP AG, shows how the U.S. government can tap into the power of Big Data to change how it operates and fundamentally improve people’s lives.

For the infographic that summarizes the study’s findings, click here.

Making huge volumes of all kinds of Big Data from many sources actionable is one of the major challenges that public and private sectors face. Yet this study shows how Big Data is already making a difference in the way governments bring important services to citizens. For example, police departments worldwide are using Big Data technology to develop predictive models about when and where crimes are likely to occur. This is helping dramatically reduce the overall crime rate in specific locations.

In addition, according to 75% of federal IT officials who participated in the survey, real-time Big Data is helping the U.S. government improve the quality of citizens’ lives. Insights gleaned from huge volumes of data across agencies allow the government to provide improved, personalized services to citizens.

Enormous potential for healthier federal budget and citizens

The benefits of Big Data could directly impact one the biggest issues in the United States, namely reducing the federal budget. Eighty-three percent of surveyed federal IT officials say Big Data solutions can help government cut the U.S. federal budget by at least 10%, or $380 billion.

A healthier government can also lead to healthier citizens.According to 87% of federal IT officials and 75% of state IT officials, real-time Big Data solutions will save a significant number of lives each year. For example, medical researchers armed with aggregated, information about healthcare outcomes can monitor patterns, leading to more effective outbreak detection and faster treatment.

Next page: Major barriers to adoption include ROI and cost

Despite the obvious benefits of real-time Big Data solutions, the study found four major barriers to adoption. Privacy concerns are the biggest challenge according to 47% of federal IT officials. The issue is avoiding “Big Brother” connotations. At the same time, 39% of federal and state IT officials worry about how much the new tools will cost. What’s more, Big Data hoopla aside, 42% of federal IT officials cite the lack of clarity about its ROI. There’s no proven business case to justify wholesale investment just yet.

About 40% of federal and state IT officials also hesitate because they say database queries take too long using traditional database technology. In-memory computing is one solution that addresses this problem. For example, SAP HANA, SAP’s platform for real-time business, streamlines transactions, analytics, planning, predictive, sentiment data processing on a single in-memory database so organizations can operate in real-time.

Getting wise to a wealthier, healthier way of life

Perhaps no other place is more conscious of the fact that information is power than Washington, D.C. If more government agencies can get actionable data where and when it’s needed most, it can work to the advantage of citizens with better services, healthier lives, and greater productivity. And that benefits everyone.

Check out this blog for another take on how Big Data is saving lives, with insights from Chris Moore, CIO of the city of Edmonton, and Josh Bersin, CEO of Bersin by Deloitte.