Big data is everywhere. As Government Technology previously reported, the concept of big data — analyzing large data sets and using the information to make decisions — continues to grow as agencies get better at capturing and sharing statistics on what they do.

But often there's an information overload when it comes capturing and making use of so much data. According to a report from the Center for Digital Government, also owned by Government Technology's parent company, e.Republic, called Big Data, Big Promise, these eight simple tips will help you get started down the big data path -- and toward better outcomes.

1. Identify mission-critical business cases. 

How can big data help your agency execute its mission, save tax dollars or improve service? From this starting point, you can develop purpose-built initiatives as part of a long-term big data vision. the most successful deployments are based on use cases that correspond to one of the 3Vs — velocity, volume or variety. In other words, select use cases that involve high-velocity data processing and decision-making, high volumes of data or a wide variety of structure, semi-structured and unstructured data formats.

2. Create a staffing plan. 

Don’t make the mistake of entering big data territory without the right staff — or a plan to attract them. Will you develop internal employees or recruit outside talent to ensure that your organization has the necessary data science and analytics skills?

3. Assess your architechture. 

Does your technology infrastructure support big data’s requirements? Identify your technology requirements and determine gaps. You may achieve more success from piggy-backing onto existing or already planned investments where it makes sense — but don’t force it. execute in phases if needed. You’ll need to develop ROI models for major technology investments.

4. Consider an open data initiative. 

Open data is low-hanging fruit. Compared to many initiatives, it’s fairly simple to implement — all you have to do is make your data stores accessible. You’ll help improve public trust and engagement, and quite possibly will encourage outside data analyses and app development that could benefit your agency.

According to Mark Headd, Philadelphia’s chief data officer: “Implementing an open data program is a great way to get started with big data.

When governments share data with each other and with outside consumers like developers, researchers and others, it highlights the strategic value that data has and the role it can play in empowering better decision-making. open data can be an effective gateway to big data.”

5. Inventory your existing data. 

Do you have access to all the data you need, or do you need to collaborate with other departments to integrate data? Consider your options for combining data from multiple sources and start tearing down those data silos.

6. Assess workflow and develop a change plan. 

Will workflow be impacted by the changes brought by a big data initiative? Document your current processes and understand how they will change. communicate and train employees on how to manage any new workflows.

7. Develop an information governance plan. 

This includes document and data retention standards for all information, including social media, emails, data stored on mobile devices, metadata, and data stored in cloud and SaaS environments. Who will have the ability to access and analyze specific data sets? Assess your eDiscovery capabilities and determine what, if any, improvements can be made using the appropriate technology.

8. It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

This is especially true in the case of an open data initiative, and one of the reasons that they’re easier to execute. It only took the california state controller’s office about three months to launch the initial publicpay website. They improved the website functionality, look and feel when they launched version 2.0 the following year.

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