Written By: Stu Davis

Data analytics is a game changer. One of my favorite Einstein quotes is “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Technology has finally caught up with the promise of artificial intelligence and data analytics, and it has the potential to be the largest disruptor the public sector has ever seen. If we embrace tools like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and bots we can completely change the business of government. By changing the way, we approach challenges, we can begin to solve the social issues we face daily. It is the embodiment of Einstein’s quote.

Data analytics – not just data mining, but true analytics – applied against the mountains of data collected by all levels of government can innovate the way state government works by streamlining processes, policies, programs, and even agencies and departments. Think of all the redundant data state government collects and the ancillary data gathered to support siloed programs. All this data managed appropriately with the right Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can be used to address serious challenges we face today like:

  • The Opiate Crisis: Clinical analysis can identify patterns of concern, give an accurate estimate of the frequency of opiate prescriptions, monitor the number of suspected overdoses in a community, and predict a patient’s risk for addiction.
  • Foster Care Screening: Automated Predictive Risk Models utilize existing data that can be used to place children in the right families and home environments.
  • Reducing Recidivism in the Prison System: Identifying commonality in traits, trends and historical data of repeat offenders and taking that information into consideration during parole hearings.
Transforming Data Analytics Within Your Organization

The biggest challenge to impactful, multi-agency data analytics is the lack of data sharing between agencies and departments and a “never done this before” mentality. This happens at the program and department levels and in many cases the resistance is steeped in “folk law” where program and department folks interpret compliance laws as prohibiting the sharing of data. This can be true, but there are approaches that ensure data protection while allowing the data to be leveraged for analytics to power data-driven decisions. Again, we need to think differently to solve problems.

From experience, I can say that to combat this mindset, especially in the early startup stages in government, data analytics efforts and programs must be approached from the top down. As the CIO for the state of Ohio, we launched a statewide analytics program aimed at solving some of the state’s most critical challenges. Leadership at the agency and department levels with strong executive management support and sponsorship was integral in launching this initiative.

Never have we had the confluence of interests, technology and expertise to think about citizens and businesses holistically. Einstein is right. This a different way to think about problems facing government and a huge opportunity to have positive impacts on programs, policies, processes and more importantly, people.

Stu Davis was the longest-serving CIO for the State of Ohio, working under John Kasich from 2011-2018. As a thought-leader in the space, Davis points to data analytics as a pivotal tool in streamlining government and dramatically changing the way services are delivered. Davis now serves as a key leader at Sense Corp, growing our Public Sector division.

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