How Georgetown Plans to Eliminate One-Size-Fits-All Policymaking

The university hopes to build an institute that will harness data to help lawmakers enact more intelligent policies.

Edward Montgomery, Georgetown
Edward Montgomery, Georgetown’s dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy
<a href="" target="_blank">Georgetown</a>
On Thursday, Edward Montgomery, Georgetown’s dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy, spoke at the Data Innovation Day event in Washington, D.C.; he asked for partners in his school’s effort to build a new data institute designed to harness data that will help lawmakers make more intelligent, personalized policies. 

His appeal came at the tail end of a speech touting big data’s enormous potential in allowing analyzers to pinpoint specific societal and legal needs, and tailor legal decisions based on individual situations. He aims for Georgetown’s upcoming institute to be the leader in this effort.

Data will “create opportunities for policy specifically designed for even more refined groups," he said. "One size-fits-all will give way to personalized public policy."

Skyrocketing computing power, data visualization software, and gadgets and tools like the Internet, satellites and sensors are making an unprecedented amount of data readily available, which can be studied for more informed, intelligent legal maneuvers. 

Montgomery cited examples to further underline data’s potential for large-scale, focused analysis. MIT’s Billion Prices Project, for example, conducts economic research by collecting price data from hundreds of online retailers globally, and the company Premise collects pricing data from 50,000 food items per hour globally.

Modern technology arms people with the tools to take data and educate the masses. “New data visualization software and apps will instantly put these datasets at the fingertips of not only researchers but policymakers and the public, empowering those even without a computer science background,” Montgomery said.

Jessica Mulholland is the associate editor of GOVERNING, and is also the associate editor of both Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.