How does data have the power to transform government citizen services? On July 21 – we’re going to find out. The countdown to MerITocracy 2022: American Innovation Forum is on.

In the lead-up to the in-person forum in Washington, D.C., we are table-setting a host of big issues that will get serious attention at MerITocracy 2022. In today’s edition of Countdown to MerITocracy, Snowflake’s Global Industry Go-To-Market Lead Jeff Frazier shares how leveraging data-driven insights can help Federal, state, and local agencies make smarter decisions in technology, security, healthcare, and more.

The in-person forum – taking place at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – will host bipartisan leaders from Congress, the Biden administration, and America’s tech industry to examine the most pressing problems facing citizens in our democracy, and map out creative solutions from the nexus of policy and technology. Register today.

How Data-Driven Insights Can Help Modernize Public Sector Infrastructure

By: Jeff Frazier, Global Industry Go-To-Market Lead, Public Sector, Snowflake

In November 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.5 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (BID) to rebuild the nation’s highways, airports, and other infrastructure, including a set of public works projects for tackling climate change. The bill dedicates nearly $500 billion for surface transportation needs, $130 billion for school infrastructure, $70 billion to improve the electric grid, $100 billion to housing, $100 billion to expand broadband internet, and $30 billion to healthcare facilities. This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and spending these funds wisely is a top priority for officials and citizens alike.

According to research from MeriTalk and AP-NORC, just 15 percent of American adults trust the Federal government to do what is right for them and their families all or most of the time. How can our governments at the Federal, state, and local levels regain the public’s confidence by delivering on the promises of major infrastructure programs?

To help improve performance in the programs being funded under BID, the government can leverage new technology solutions to unlock data and gain insights. Leveraging data is the best way to ask and answer the important questions that ultimately lead to improvements and innovations. The private sector is increasingly using data-driven insights to make smarter decisions and deliver better services in retail, finance, entertainment, and healthcare programs – large and small.

What made this shift possible? The answer is modern data infrastructures. These systems help answer questions using information that, in many cases, is already available. Modern data infrastructures are fast, safe, reliable, and connected. And because the commercial market has been moving to modern cloud-based architectures, there is an existing ecosystem of tools and capabilities that make data analysis much more affordable.

To make BID work efficiently and effectively, governments need to modernize their data infrastructures to provide better, more timely information to help plan, build, and manage these trillion-dollar investments. Adopting the kind of modern systems used in the private sector can be a fast and cost-effective way to do this.

What do you need to know?

An important aspect of data-driven insights is asking relevant questions about these large, complex public programs. Consider the following: If you had unlimited data resources, what would you want to know right now? With a modern system, you can get answers at critical points in any program, often with data that is already in existence. For example, what are the best learning resources to connect to so that broadband access to lower-income areas improves our STEM programs? Or how do we make sure that water going into the new pipes isn’t already polluted so that fewer Americans are exposed to a contaminated water supply?

With new technologies like the Snowflake Data Cloud, getting those answers is much faster and more affordable – allowing governments to deliver faster and more affordable citizen services.

Where the Data Cloud has been used

In 2020, the State of California started using the Data Cloud to answer two critical questions: How was COVID-19 spreading across the state? And, what were the impacts on health services? The state was then able to analyze the progression and impact of COVID-19 across the its population and health systems. From there, the state used the Data Cloud to create a system that gave every vaccinated Californian the option of secure, shareable digital proof of vaccination. These systems were created and deployed in a matter of weeks, when previously, they may have taken months or years. California has been able to realize value as more data sources and analytics come online.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had a different question: How could it more effectively identify and prevent fraud and abuse of Medicare and Medicaid claims? CMS uses the Data Cloud to combat fraud, waste, and abuse in claims payments with predictive analytics and has reduced improper payment discovery from weeks to hours.

Further, the public sector is using the Data Cloud to improve services including transportation, energy, and school infrastructure. When it comes to improvements in collaborative transportation systems, safety prevention protocols, and hybrid learning structures, data can build smarter, prepared, and flexible infrastructures.

Unlocking the power of data

Building modern data systems does not require lengthy development or large up-front costs. The data is already there – it just needs to make its way to the right person. Offering a cloud-built architecture, the Data Cloud is available on all three major clouds, is easy to implement and scale.  The connectivity is affordable thanks to consumption-based pricing models.

The public sector is committed to improving investments that make U.S. infrastructure modern, resilient, and sustainable. By creating better connections between people and data in a highly governed, near-instant, and more efficient manner, policymakers and public sector leaders can make data-driven decisions that increase public confidence and improve safety, security, quality of life, and socioeconomic opportunity for all Americans. Data is meant to create connections. Even if your data hasn’t been used that way previously, the potential is there – and the technology is here now.

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MeriTalk Staff