POLITICO ''Outside, In'': Big Data

By Joe Robinson, Vice President, Philips Government Solutions


(Top photo credit: POLITICO/Kate Patterson)


There is virtually no entity – public or private – that does not stand to benefit from the value of big data. A revolution is taking hold across academia, science and technology, industry, nonprofits and all levels of government. Big data holds tremendous potential to help reduce inefficiencies, eliminate waste and solve some of our nation’s most pressing challenges.


That is why on July 9, 2014 Philips and POLITICO convened a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss how government and private companies are harnessing big data to inform decisions, shape policy and affect communities.


The third panel in the year-long "Outside, In" series of conversations with innovators featured CEO of Imaging Advantage Naseer Hashim, 1776 Co-Founder Evan Burfield, Michigan Urban Farming Initiative President Tyson Gersh, Urban Insights Director of Analytics Wade Rosado, and City of Chicago Director of Analytics Tom Lee Schenk Jr.


Burfield asserted that the insight generated by big data is staggering when you fully understand the potential it holds for transportation, healthcare, education and the delivery of social services.


"But it also presents very, very serious privacy concerns for the individual," Burfield said. "It's a federal issue, it's a local issue, it spans government, it spans the private sector, it's the intersection of all of those, and it's something that is going to need to be addressed in order to fully unlock the potential of these technologies."


Hashim agreed that it is important to maintain privacy and security, but added that we cannot allow these fears to become a barrier to essential innovation.


Schenk highlighted the fact that the city of Chicago is using predictive analytics to forecast issues and overarching trends without over-leveraging personally identifiable information.


Gersh noted that while there was a higher trust factor related to the handling of personal data with non-profits, the key social good associated with big data was the matching of human needs with available solutions in new and innovative ways.


As the panelists agreed, for all those invested in big data, leveraging this data ultimately involves striking a balance between creatively and purposefully pursuing data and analytics and ensuring that the information is secure, meaningful and actionable for the individual.


"Data [is] the language that transcends across the socioeconomic strata," Schenk said. "I think this is what I see as the huge value of technology - it gives everyone a platform to be heard."


For more information about "Outside, In," visit the POLITICO "Outside, In" series page.

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