Governments Are Using Big Data, and it’s Not All Terrifying

May 8, 2015

Governments Using Big Data to Solve Problems

After a lengthy appeal process, today a US appeals court has ruled that the wide sweeping government collection of phone data was illegal. The NSA was exposed to be collecting phone numbers and the number of calls made to those numbers. Although this overstep by the NSA has had dramatic effects on national and foreign relations, not everything that governments do with big data will make you want to buy a tin foil hat and hide under your desk.

Vice News journalist Meg Charlton recently reported on a joint venture between the City University of New York (CUNY) and New York City government. The program, called New York City Labor Market Information Service (LMIS), uses data mining techniques to follow trends in industry demands. The insights that are brought out are used to help training programs select curriculums and graduation dates to best coincide with industry needs and peak hiring times (Charlton). This data-collection effort helps supplement programs like the Department of Labor’s O*Net, which is a key resource in the workforce development field.

Another exciting development in government big data usage is coming out of Cuba. With the diplomatic thaw continuing between the United States and Cuba, our southern neighbor is preparing for an influx of American tourists. Although US tourism hasn’t been allowed to visit Cuba in a long time, Latin American, European, and Canadian tourism brings around 2.8 million visitors a year. Cuba has hired a small Spanish analytics firm, SocialVane, to analyze social media for mentions of Cuba to identify issues, trends, and potentials for the tourism industry (Valerio). Although Cuba still faces many challenges, such as poor internet speed (196 out of 200 global ranking) and a ban on satellite communications, this is a significant step forward for the small island nation.

Charlton, Meg. "How Big Data Could Reshape the American Workforce." Vice News. 6 May 2015. Web. 7 May 2015.

Valerio, Pablo. "Cuba Turns To Analytics, Big Data To Help Tourism." Information Week. 7 May 2015. Web. 7 May 2015.