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The most good you can do: Three ways big data can help you serve your city

By David Turcotte, Global Industry Director, Public Sector, Microsoft on August 30, 2016

Filed under State & Local Government

In cities around the world, it’s becoming apparent that the future of public service providers—from water districts to transit agencies—is data-driven. Governments everywhere are beginning to use data analytics technology to drive better-informed policy-making and more efficiently improve and maintain existing programs and infrastructure.

It is hard to overstate the broad range of government activities that can be improved by using a big-data-driven approach. New solutions such as AvePoint Citizen Services give government agencies a platform to collect and analyze data. The insights gained from the advanced reporting capabilities of these solutions enable rapid and precise identification of inefficiencies, so that agencies can reduce operating costs, streamline processes, and promote accountability between departments. Let’s look at some of the benefits that citizens stand to gain when you make the leap to a data-driven strategy.

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Environmental Stewardship

Cities around the world are already seeing amazing environmental improvements as a results of adopting big data strategies. Suppose you’d like to cut water consumption. Unpopular water use bans and limits can work in the short term, but by collecting and using your data to the fullest you can get immediate, sustainable results.

If you crunch the numbers to find average water consumption by household size and neighborhood, you can create compelling individualized reports which compare an individual’s water consumption to that of similar households as well as municipal targets. These measures can incentivize citizens to reduce consumption by drawing acute attention to their own excess usage.

Microsoft has played a part in developing Singapore’s water conservation program in which citizens are given access to real-time water consumption data via the custom MyWaters app which you can read about here.

More efficient use of tax revenue

The cost of data analytics technologies is lower than ever, but there are more compelling financial reasons to consider adopting a big data strategy. By using data to optimize your services and operations, you reap a far greater return on your investment – meaning you can stretch taxpayer dollars further. Instead of losing money on inefficiencies, you can leverage deep insights from your data to streamline operations. With your newfound savings, you can take advantage of opportunities to expand existing services or introduce entirely new ones.

For example, in Amsterdam city officials are using real-time pedestrian traffic information to brighten or dim street lighting according to need. This means the city can dim the lights on less-frequented streets, while keeping more bustling areas brightly lit. In addition to being environmentally friendly, these sorts of policies are saving Amsterdam significant costs.

Greater Trust

Transparency and trust are top concerns for you and your citizens, and data can help on this front as well. When the data you use for decision-making is publicly available, citizens have deeper visibility into where you are grounding your rationale. Increased transparency increases trust. By tracking outcomes directly, citizens can confidently assess what is working and what isn’t. The ability to follow a decision from beginning to end provides both public service providers and citizens with an opportunity to adapt and proactively address potential pitfalls.

Big data has the potential to revitalize civic participation and redefine citizens’ role in influencing policy. By polling and giving citizens access to e-participation options, you can pull in more data and more voices to ensure the measures you implement are being well-received. Furthermore, cities that make their databases publicly available are seeing enterprising citizens create apps and develop programs that help address their community’s most pressing concerns.

Get started today

Data-driven decision-making sends the message that making improvements to citizen life is a top priority. If you’re interested in how your data can help you ensure environmental stewardship, use tax dollars more effectively, and increase trust – check out Avepoint Citizen Services. This new solution gives cities the ability to provide information citizen servicesand deliver optimal service to citizens through multiple access channels, including mobile and social platforms. It provides a centralized portal where the public can easily submit service requests from anywhere, at any time, and on any device.

Microsoft and AvePoint can help your agency connect with its citizens and promote innovation in today’s increasingly digital world. Unlock your potential today with the AvePoint Citizen Services solution. Learn more about the solution on the AppSource marketplace.

 

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