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The government should simplify the forms it asks citizens to fill in to enable the public sector to more easily manage and take advantage of Big Data warehouses, according to research.

The government should simplify the forms it asks citizens to fill in to enable the public sector to more easily manage and take advantage of Big Data warehouses, according to research.

A poll of 2,200 UK adults conducted by YouGov shows that more than four in five citizens (82 percent) claim they have never knowingly provided false information in a government agency form. This, reckons YouGov, puts the public sector in "prime position to collect a central repository of reliable and valuable ‘big data’”, assuming most of the 82 percent are telling the truth or not mistaken. 

The conclusion of the "Communicating with the Citizen" report says "high-performance analytics" (HPA) could be used to glean the maximum benefits from this "clean" data, providing the government can also increase form response rates.

Respondents said the top four ways government could maintain or improve its communication with the general public were making it clearer what information is actually being asked for (69 percent), and the use of more simplistic language in documentation (54 percent). They also wanted the ability to complete and submit forms and payments online (50 percent), and the highlighting of key information in bold or "strong" colours in documentation (31 percent).

The report was commissioned by business analytics software firm SAS. Another recent report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and SAS estimated that if central government could apply high-performance analytics to big data so as to improve its intelligence on citizens, there would be a £6.7bn economic benefit over the next five years.

While electronic communications can be harnessed to provide quick integrated updates to growing databases, the public prefer paper when communicating though.

The latest research found that a hard copy letter is the favoured method (50 percent) for receiving general government agency communications, followed by email (37 percent). Text messages (39 percent) and phone calls (23 percent) from a government agency were the most likely channels to be ignored.

Bernard Baker, director for the public sector at SAS UK and Ireland, said: “If the public sector adjusts its communication methods and tools in line with this feedback, not only will response rates improve, but so will the consistency and uniformity of the data being collected, putting public servants in a much stronger position to provide citizens with improved services.”

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