A Look Back at 2015: Realizing Tremendous Value in Information, Data

Here’s a look at our most popular news stories of 2015.

by / December 7, 2015
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Government is getting smarter. That’s one undeniable conclusion from a look back at the big news coming out of public-sector IT in 2015. As government assets go, leaders now realize the tremendous value of the multitude of information they hold: Indiana analyzed 5 billion rows of data to tackle its high infant mortality rate, while Chicago is using a number of data sets to prioritize restaurant inspections in the city. And others are still getting their feet wet in the analytics game. Detroit’s first open data portal launched this year, featuring more than 250 data sets.

Cloud technology continues to transform, with adoption rates ramping up across all levels of government, especially as agencies grow more confident in cloud security. Criminal Justice Information Services certifications for Microsoft in a growing number of states signal a sea change even for public safety agencies, traditionally the most reluctant to make the switch. But as police body camera programs take off in more and more jurisdictions, storage needs increase exponentially and the cloud is fast becoming an important part of the storage solution.

2015 saw more movement toward smart cities. High-profile support came in September with $160 million from the White House aimed at boosting R&D and smart city/Internet of Things projects. Carnegie Mellon University, for one, is equipping its campus with sensors, with Google’s help, and plans to eventually saturate Pittsburgh with the technology. San Francisco’s IoT network will be the largest in the U.S., and its partner plans to build nine more across the country.

The road to a more digital future is not without its bumps, proven by high-profile data breaches like the U.S. Office of Personnel Management hack in July, which exposed 25 million Social Security numbers, taking a key system offline for a month. And August’s breach of the Ashley Madison site showed that public-sector employees could benefit from some training in cyber best practices, with several thousand exposed user names containing government domains. A bevy of surveys this year show that implementing strong cyberdefenses remains a top priority for government CIOs.

The future is most definitely a connected one. Both Facebook and Twitter made this official this year by offering verified status for government agencies, so citizens won’t be as easily duped by imposters, well-meaning or otherwise. And some officials, like Peoria, Ill., Mayor Jim Ardis are demonstrating that government has not yet mastered social media, although many now use the tools as effective extensions of their communications programs.

The coming year promises more progress on these technologies and others that just a few years ago were considered disruptive, and are now working their way into the mainstream. Here’s a look at our most popular news stories of 2015.


Year in Review 2015: Starting Off Strong
From the launch of Google’s Government Innovation Lab and the January preview of Microsoft’s Windows 10 to use of predictive analytics in Chicago and Indiana, the first quarter of 2015 was chock full of newsworthy happenings in the world of government IT. 


Year in Review 2015: Innovation Takes Off
In the second quarter of 2015, a few states created digital registries to track medical and recreational marijuana distribution centers, Facebook unveiled verified pages for government and transportation officials in Missouri unveil plans to launch America’s first smart highway.


Year in Review 2015: Hefty IT Investments; Fighting (and Succumbing to) Cyber Threats
From smart city investments and the use of Bitcoin technology in government to the Ashley Madison and U.S. Office of Personnel Management hacks, news during the third quarter of 2015 didn't disappoint.


Year in Review 2015: Smart, Digital Cities Reign Supreme
In the fourth quarter of 2015, San Francisco announced the biggest Internet of Things project in the U.S. to date, the most digital cities in the nation were named and the FAA announced that it will require drone owners to register devices with aviation authorities. 

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.