All data is local, as local governments become innovation leaders

The expression "all politics is local" has been with us for a long time. But it's fair to say that all data collection is local too. While the federal government may be the gate keeper for the largest data collections in the world, most of that...

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The expression "all politics is local" has been with us for a long time. But it's fair to say that all data collection is local too.

While the federal government may be the gate keeper for the largest data collections in the world, most of that information has a local origin. Whether it's data related to store sales, health records, financial transactions, weather information, education statistics or citizen demographics, all information is collected locally. Data percolates up from the bottom, and it tells new stories as it is aggregated at the local, state and eventually national levels.

And as we move into the ever-larger Big Data era, it's also worth noting that state and local governments are starting to move into the lead when it comes to IT innovation. By "lead" we are not referring to highly technical innovation. (For example, DARPA's Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node.) Instead we mean that local government is leading when it comes to making the types of transitions that all government agencies are facing. They are innovating, consolidating and leading in wireless solutions.

Local governments are

  • Putting more workers in the field with wireless connectivity, while still giving them access to all of their applications. Example: The Amsterdam Smart City project in the Netherlands stresses smart grids and wireless networks that are shared by governments and citizens. They have 54 different connectivity projects underway, for things like measuring street-level climates and traffic, supporting government workers in the field and monitoring public health.
  • Making great strides with last-mile networking, in a way that is breathing life into the Internet of things needed by city governments. Example: The City of Leeds, England, recently worked with Virgin Media to install a nearly city-wide millimetre wave backhaul network to improve wireless coverage across the city. The bandwidth will have both public sector and private applications.
  • Working toward consortiums that offer shared services for common applications and standardized portal sites. Example: Working together, the City and County of Eau Claire Wisconsin have established a Joint Commission on Shared Services Initiatives. Their 2014 Annual Report stated that their main purpose is to "examine and identify opportunities for potential shared services among the governments, and to recommend to the respective governing bodies the approval of concepts and strategies."
  • Enjoying significant cost savings for cloud deployments. Example: the City of Palo Alto California has been vocal and progressive in moving some of its services to the cloud as a money saving effort. They city recently expanded their subscriptions to include a time-tracking service for some council meetings and reports, and they are testing cloud based Geospatial Information System solutions.
  • Using business analytics to build highly effective fraud analysis. Example: We wrote a few years about how fraud analytics had helped the state of Washington recover money by detecting fraud patterns. We have see this approach expand to several other states, and now some fraud solutions are cloud based and easily accessible by state and local governments.

We believe the trend of local leadership for mobility, data collection and innovative applications to deal with citizen needs will continue. The data collected as part of these efforts will continue to help leaders make important governing decisions.

In light of this, IDC government Insights has an upcoming document called The Last Domino: Metro Area Small Cell (MASC) Networks and the New Cascade of Gov "Big Data in Motion." It will be available in about 10 days and will cover the rapid growth of small cell solutions in local areas, and examines how this is helping to drive government innovation.

IDC also offers an informative Worldwide Smart City Taxonomy, which explains how all of the various products and concepts of local government computing can work in concert.

Posted by Shawn P. McCarthy, Research Director, IDC Government Insights

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