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Government and Big Data for Policy Making (Part 2)

Government and Big Data for Policy Making (Part 2)

Raj Nigam & Saurabh Srivastava
By Raj Nigam & Saurabh Srivastava
February 18, 2015

This is the second and last of the two-part blog on Government and Big data for policy making.

In the first part we talked about how Government can utilize big data for policy making. We did a SWOT analysis to see where we stand and what needs to be done to facilitate this. The key take away is that this is a sensitive matter and will require great intent and consideration from government’s side. The risk of misuse of information is enormous and can create a ruckus if measures are not at place. Amidst all the threats lies the world which will be democratized, transparent and efficient. The big data, if used successfully, will be a big leap in the field of intelligent governance. In this part we will be focusing on recommendation based on SWOT analysis done.

Following are the recommendations based on SWOT analysis of Big data in governance and policy making:

  • Understanding the needs of citizen: Government sits on untapped data goldmine and it will be very crucial to understand the tone of citizens and what are the top needs. Government needs to pinpoint better resources of data collection, devise efficient support system and engineer the mechanism in a way that generates insights which are meaningful and facilitate decision making.
  • Infrastructural changes and deployment of analytics: Government should focus on setting up infrastructure for storage of data and IT system for manage and utilize big data. It needs to train workers for smooth execution and hire people with good analytical skills. The need of the hour is a system where performance can be measured so as to do efficient delivery of services. The analytics need to be such that it provides useful insights through initiatives that are transparent and consists of substantial contribution from public through open data. Private sector is way ahead as far as big data and analytical skills are concerned and government should focus on tapping them for the help required. Private-Public partnership is the way forward if governments really want to establish its analytic wing to analyze and organize in a mannerism that facilitates policy making and delivering services.
  • Data protection and regulatory mechanism: The social and ethical stigma related to making data public will be a big hurdle. Also, the sensitivity of data can led to misuse for commercial gains and faces the threat of cyber terrorism and crime. Public can look at the big data as something related to discrimination based on groups, caste , creed, etc. The path forward is full of such threats and policy makers need to take every step carefully. They need to decide on how much information should be made public and the extent of private sector involvement in the whole process. There should be codes and strict laws to ensure responsible analytics. Government should run campaigns to make people aware about the pros and cons of Big Data as this is a very sensitive matter and people need to know the positives related.
  • Awareness and intent form side of Government: Governments and policy makers should look at the bigger picture and avoid thinking about short term benefits when planning the usage of big data in governance. The budget allocation will be a big road blocker as the world is still facing the aftermath of recession and most of the economies have adopted austerity measures. This will require intent from policy makers and the need is to come out of rule driven hierarchical structuring. This step, if successful, will reinvent the way governance is done. This will instill fresh ideas, concepts and public voices in the system. Government can use documented case studies and reports while dealing with issues and events. Policy makers should also focus on attaining awareness about big data as they have the responsibility to make people aware and take steps that guarantee fair and risk free execution.
  •   Strategy planning and execution: Government should strategize in a way that the outcome is information and customer centric shared platform. It should look for options and automations that are economically viable and have greater visibility. Also, the planners should take into account the rapid growth rate of data so as to deploy the infrastructure and IT capability accordingly. Government should establish a team comprised of people efficient in advanced analytics and IT skills. This team should entrust the responsibility of identification of opportunities in big data and work on capitalizing the full potential. Strategist should focus on the best strategy for big data innovation. They should be open to take help from private and commercial players. It would be advisable to create a charter and assign responsibilities to the right persons/groups/agencies.


Tapping into Big data has become a custom for private sector and few government agencies has already applied the same successfully in tackling issues such as crime prone areas prediction, fraud detection in tax and healthcare, cargo management in ports, etc. But scaling this to country level will be a big task and will require great intent and combined effort of public, policy makers and business leaders. People and policies will have to collaborate and initiate to mine the underlying potential, opportunities, power and capabilities of analytics in Big data. This will determine the way in which country should be governed in a method which is open, efficient and democratic. The way forward looks very difficult and full of threats but the amount of potential and opportunities that lies within that is enormous. It will ensure more transparency, more collaborations and a participative government. Amidst the hurdles lies a world which is fair, open, informed and intelligent. The need is to keep our mind open and ready to bear the initial costs as equal efforts are required from the government and people. We should understand the intent behind and should avoid thinking that this is some kind of intrusion into our private life as most of the private companies are already sharing and using our data for commercial gains. We need to trust the power of numbers and should contribute at our level to make this possible. Big data is the future and we should be ready for the change that can result in a future which will be democratized in the right way i.e. of the people, by the people and for the people.


1)                  D. Paschaloudis, K. Anastasiadou, M. Tsourela [2011], “SWOT Analysis of E-government services in Greece”, Tsourela-Paschaloudis-Anastasiadou, 520-527

2)                  Anders Holst, Björn Bjurling, Daniel Gillblad, Olof Görnerup [2013], “Big Data Analytics: A Research and Innovation Agenda for Sweden”, The Swedish Big Data Analytics Network

3)                  Chris Yiu [2012], “The Big Data Opportunity: Making government faster, smarter and more personal”, Policy exchange,

4)                  Adelaide O’Brien [2012], “The Impact of Big Data on Government”, IDS Government Insights,

5)                  Bill Cull [2013], “3 ways big data is transforming government”, The Business of Federal Technology,

6)                  Steven Goldsmith [2013], “Big Data, Analytics and a New Era of Efficiency in Government”,



Raj_Nigam   Raj Nigam

Based out of Mumbai, Raj Nigam is working with Fractal Analytics. He works on developing and delivering Global Analytics solutions for major CPG retails clients. He may be contacted on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

Saurabh_Srivastava_v2 (1)   Saurabh Srivastava

Based out of Minneapolis, Saurabh Srivastava is working with Fractal Analytics. He works extensively on helping major CPG retail clients institutionalize analytics. He may be contacted on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

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