How Open Government Data and Cloud Computing Create Value

Saving Money

  • Innovations in Power and Information
  • Better Insights
  • The human Side of Technology
  • Continuing the Push
  • The Right Cloud

Innovations in Power and Information

In recent years, the federal government has moved to adopt open data and cloud technology. Open data makes it easier for governmental offices: data access is more affordable, and it is simple to make information publicly available. Cloud computing renders the costs of IT infrastructure more manageable and creates an environment within which big data analytics can allow agencies to technologically address complex issues.

“Cloud computing and open data take two previously costly inputs—computing power and information—and make them dramatically cheaper,” explained Center for Data Innovation analyst Joshua New. “Government agencies invest large amounts of capital and time to build and manage their own data centers and IT infrastructure.”

In other words, the cloud makes planning for the future dramatically more flexible. When only traditional IT was available, it was necessary to establish capacity by predicting how many resources would be needed in the coming months and years. Changing the capacity was complicated, so organizations ended up setting up systems with extra resources so that they would not run into a wall.

The cloud makes it possible for the federal government to adjust as it goes, scaling up and down in tune with demand, which is both more energy-efficient and more cost-effective. Since government offices now have to make data available on the Internet in languages readily understood by devices, the public sector has drastically reduced the time it was spending to transfer data out and take it in: no need for individual transfer of outgoing data, and no need to ask for data due to immediate accessibility.

Better Insights

Since both open data and cloud computing enhance the government’s information-sharing capabilities, these two technologies have made it easier to work with the data and learn from it.

One great example is the Consumer Sentinel Network. The network, managed by the Federal Trade Commission, is a coalition of dozens of governmental agencies at all levels. They share information when individual complaints are made about companies, such as fraudulent telemarketing offers, do-not-call violations, and credit scams.

Cloud systems don’t just make intergovernmental sharing easier; they also make it easier for the public sector to share information with businesses and American citizens.

One example of a major cloud migration is being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The agency expects its total data storage to increase by 90,000 TB annually beginning in 2020, and that data could not be publicly available without the cloud.

“NOAA expects the scalability and ease of deployment of these cloud solutions will help reduce the bottleneck effect that limited government IT infrastructure can have on organizations and businesses that rely on government data,” said New.

The Human Side of Technology

With the increase in data capacity, governmental offices can improve their position related to tech talent. After all, private industry often outpaces the public sector because business has historically been able to pay more than the government has for individuals who are highly skilled at data. There are relatively few people who are experts in data science, and every organization wants the top people so that they can benefit from processing their data in meaningful ways.

With cloud computing and open data, the public sector is better able to compete. In 2014, the General Services Administration created 18F, an office charged with enhancing federal IT services.

“18F hosts the competitive Presidential Innovation Fellows program,” New commented, “which attracts highly skilled technologists to improve government services with open data, such as making education [more] accessible and improving opportunities for private sector entrepreneurs.”

The US government has also trying to better connect with top talent through conferences and events, such as Health Datapalooza and hacking events geared toward finding solutions for public challenges. The 2014 National Day Of Civic Hacking addressed more than three dozen national and international problems by leveraging open data.

Continuing the Push

As you can see, both open data and cloud have much to offer the public sector and the American people. Many federal systems have been migrated at this point.

“The US Government is spending a considerable amount of its budget on cloud services,” said technology journalist David Hamilton. “US agencies are expected to spend about US$3 billion on cloud projects in fiscal 2014 (which began October 1, 2013), which is around $800 million more than officials predicted in 2013.”

However, the transition to cloud is still far from complete. Many agencies have only transferred their email and storage systems at this point, for instance. Two initiatives, Cloud First and the Open Government Directive, have proven incredibly beneficial, but the benefits will multiply as these technologies continue to see broader use.

The Right Cloud

Cloud computing has many advantages for government and business. However, it’s important to remember that cloud technology is not uniform. You want a cloud service provider that offers Passmark-rated performance. Passmark is the only objective comparison that you can use to determine actual CPU performance (since gigahertz and other variables are irrelevant between various CPU generations).

Spin up your Passmark-rated cloud VM today.

By Kent Roberts

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