The public sector has vast amounts of data it has historically held, managed, and used. Today, it faces increasing citizen expectations to improve existing services and expand across areas like healthcare as the elderly population increases globally, while improving efficiency under increasing budgetary pressures. Big Data Analytics can help tackle these challenges.


While the impact of big data in healthcare has yet to be fully realized, experts predict big data analytics will help address problems in healthcare quality and spending. Take research for instance. Researchers are now able to reserve a large amount of datasets to identify patterns related to medical side effects and efficacy of treatments.

By leveraging Big Data tools on diverse datasets, governments can design more targeted healthcare enhancement programs and thus, expect to achieve better population level outcomes at lower costs.

Big Data is also helping fight against the spread of epidemics. In Africa, mobile phone location data is proving highly valuable in efforts to track population movements, which helps to predict the spread of the Ebola virus.

The U.S. Department of health & services has initiated the use of big data from the earlier years. Government agencies involved in healthcare, such as the Centers for Disease Control track the spread of illness using social media.

Integrating different information systems and data sources and modeling population behavior makes it possible to predict disease spread paths and infer how to deploy healthcare resources to best effect

Economic Modeling

As one of many possible applications of Big Data in economic affairs, social media data can provide clues to impending rises in unemployment and help take mitigating action

Sentiment analysis on social media and digital data allowed correlating conversations to official unemployment statistics. Topics such as postponing holidays or downgrading car turned out to be predictors of unemployment increase.

It was possible to measure an uptake in hostility in the United States four months before and unemployment spike. Similarly, increasing confusion and anxiety were identified in Ireland before an unemployment spike.

Climate and Weather Forecasting

High-performance computing allows modeling weather and climate with formerly impossible accuracy and updating such forecasts with greater speed and frequency at a lower cost. Disaster warnings and observations about long-term trends can help take appropriate, timely precautions to save lives, protect property, and organize economic activities accordingly.

Fraud Detection and Prevention

Correlating data of histories of attempted fraud in some benefits such as housing or tax affairs can help better target fraud investigations in other areas, such as medical benefits.

To finance social welfare under resource pressures, funds need to be spent for their intended purpose. This means avoiding leakages and fraud. Belgium identified carousel fraud as an important source of leakage.

Belgium’s Special Tax Inspectorate deployed an analytics tool to identify suspect companies. It leverages complex modeling techniques, data sources, and types as diverse as transaction data, company data, and social media data

There is an enormous opportunity ahead for government agencies to use big-data technologies to manage data growth, gain new insights and innovate in ways they couldn’t before. Big data is already beginning to transform the government.

Sudeshna Nepal is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. She can be reached at

Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at | +603 6204 5830