How can we use Big Data to improve public policies?

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If the world has reached the degree of development in which we find ourselves today without massive data, how far can it go with Big Data?

Data has become a very valuable material for institutions around the world. We are currently collecting 90% more data than three years ago, and governments are precisely the institutions that have the most resources to collect large data, so they are seen as the main provider of information. In fact, Big Data is considered one of the key factors in government innovation.

Big Data is an important tool for making public policy transparent and efficient from two key and related areas. Either from the design, process in which Big Data helps us to define where the policy should focus based on the needs expressed by citizens through data of digital origin, or from the monitoring of these, as Big Data it provides us with real-time monitoring of the results of the various measures adopted.

 

Designing innovative public policies

 Data Science for public policy design represents an important opportunity to actively involve civil society in decisions because the implementation of data-driven public policies has as its backbone information produced by society itself, such as data on poverty. crime and security, transportation and health, as well as needs or perceptions of the provision of public services.

One of the fields of public policy design that can benefit most from the application of Big Data is resource planning, as the knowledge of the needs expressed allows to optimize public investment.

One of the clearest examples of adoption of public policies based on Big Data is the initiative developed in Chile by the Millennium Center Semantic Web Research Center, the National Seismological Center and the University of Chile. These institutions developed the Twicalli application, which uses real-time Twitter information to detect in seconds the occurrence of earthquakes and the area in which they are perceived, a tool that allows more optimized public decisions.

 

 Evaluating results through massive data

 The evaluation of public policies through Big Data seeks to generate evidence to know if the measures adopted achieve their goal. So, the development of technological evaluation systems allows to know if a measure reaches its target population and what are its real costs and benefits.

In fact, public policy evaluation using the traditional fieldwork methodology has failed to achieve a high level of accuracy due to the high costs of data collection, the difficulty of real-time collection, and the high amount of time we need to invest on data collection. Problems that Big Data avoids from the moment automation is implemented for these purposes.

 

 Predicting future needs

 Big Data does not necessarily serve only to design and evaluate public policies. Data Science has other disciplines such as Artificial Intelligence that would allow us to predict future needs.

One of the most innovative initiatives in this regard is the European project H2020 which aims to find innovative solutions to urban mobility. This is a program that has proposed using artificial intelligence on the streets to facilitate transportation, such as turning all traffic lights green when an ambulance is circulating, or vehicles receiving a signal about speed changes depending on traffic or meteorology.

Definitely, Big Data can be the “game changer” of the governments of the future, as it will reduce the level of uncertainty when making decisions. And that, at the time of the world’s greatest disaffection, is an advance that we must not overlook.