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How Data Is Influencing Public Services

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How Data Is Influencing Public Services

Data has become a driving force in both the public and private sector. We take a look at how public institutions are using big data to meet their challenges.

· Big Data Zone ·
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Advocates of data-driven transformation firmly believe its tentacles will extend into every walk of life, but the delivery of public services has traditionally been slightly slower on the uptake of new technologies than many domains. A recent report from Cardiff University explores whether that is also the case with data analytics.

The researchers examined the various data systems that underpin government services in the UK, with a specific emphasis on the number of decisions that are underpinned by data and algorithms. Rather surprisingly, they suggest that the collection and sharing of data across local and national governments is now pretty widespread.

"We've become accustomed to our data being used online to decide which adverts or social media posts we should see. But for the first time, our research shows the extent to which our data is being used to decide how we are treated by public services," they explain. "In most cases, we found data systems had been implemented in response to austerity measures as a way of prioritising resources."

Data-Driven Decisions

A particularly prominent trend was the use of data in policing, with risk scores being constructed around various criminal activities. They describe one police force using a system that provides predictive policing services, whilst also profiling any individual that interacts with officers and assessing their level of risk.

They also highlight how local authorities are using data to prioritize the level of support given to any individual. For instance, one council uses an analytical hub that combines data on all social issues to try and provide a holistic overview of the needs of children and families. This system was now being used to predict the future and prepare accordingly.

The team have developed an interactive online map to allow policymakers, journalists and the public to explore how data is being used in government. Given the relatively surprising level of adoption, it's perhaps a trend that is worth keeping an eye on.

Topics:
big data ,big data analytics ,big data use cases ,data-driven decisions

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