Connecting state and local government leaders

Why the Collaboration of Government and High-Tech Is Smart

Yuganov Konstantin /


Connecting state and local government leaders

Public-private partnerships help local IT departments afford meaningful solutions that handle vast amounts of high-value data.

In a progressive digital age, local governments find themselves faced with the challenge of keeping in sync with all the civic tech-focused innovation.

The heavy use of outdated legacy software hinders the public sector’s ability to fully embrace the tech wave of the future, according to a 2015 Gartner survey. By 2020, the amount of high-value data worth analyzing will double, predicts market intelligence firm IDC.

Information technology departments are flooded with systems capturing data and are typically handed the responsibility of transforming institutions’ technical strategies, but they often don’t have the bandwidth or budget to install solutions that truly benefit the hundreds of departments they may serve.

Rather than starting from scratch, local governments—including school districts—should instead consider partnering with private-sector tech companies that are already equipped with the required funds, resources and expertise. This is the best way for the public sector to break past its traditional methods and innovate solutions and strategies that can be shared across peer organizations.

The Results of Collaboration

Private-public collaborations are slowly growing at the local level, but a long road still lies ahead. Local partnerships are oftentimes bound by procurement policies, which can make collaboration difficult but not impossible.

Cross-collaboration gives government leaders opportunities to learn and share ideas throughout the partnership process.

A five-year push toward collaboration with high-tech companies attracted significant growth to the state, ultimately creating new jobs and additional funding for small businesses and startups, according to a 2015 New Jersey Policy Research Organization report.

This success story required much cooperation and hard work, but the results speak for themselves.

Where Can We Collaborate?

Several areas are ripe for collaboration between high-tech and the public sector, but two in particular stand out:

1. Smart City Innovation via the Internet of Things

The growing world of IoT holds great potential to help municipalities enhance their transportation systems, lower their crime rates, improve their healthcare, and boost their sustainability.

San Jose, California, is already exploring this area. The city is embarking on a “Smart Cities” project in which it’s partnering with an IoT network provider to better track environmental emissions, the safety of its roads and the city’s water usage.

For example, if an IoT sensor detects a rising level of vehicle-related pollution due to a traffic jam, it can send an alert to the traffic lights in the area—which would also be connected to the network—and cause them to adjust their patterns to expedite the flow of cars.

If automobile accidents happen to recur on a particular stretch of road, IoT sensors can provide the city with valuable data regarding driver behavior, such as vehicles’ average speed when they crashed. Cities can then turn this information into action and take measures to make their roads safer for constituents.

Cities that partner with IoT-focused companies can catapult past the learning and budget constraints to empower safer, healthier and more efficient communities.

2. Smart Data Management

Everyone is collecting massive amounts of data these days, but most organizations have difficulties balancing the influx of data and the actual utilization and actionable intelligence derived from it. The average manager lacks the time and tools to receive intelligence, not just for operational matters, but also for better planning and trend analysis.

Typically, departments are siloed and ultimately gain just surface-level understandings of small portions of their data. As a result, 70 to 80 percent of all business intelligence projects end up failing, and the departments return to what they have available in Excel spreadsheets.

Government leaders need business intelligence solutions that align data to operational and performance indicators. Coordinating the overall strategy of outcomes and programs to the data lets those leaders access and act upon the information efficiently and accurately because the data give them quick and easy insight into their performances in near-real time.

Cloud-based business intelligence options aligned to the public sector’s data needs are essential, offering smart data management and strong analytical capabilities. Many even come prepackaged with best-practice smart data road maps that help align data in order to measure, predict and plan better outcomes.

Several organizations are already taking notice of this option, as illustrated by the fact that the cloud-based business intelligence industry is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 8.7 percent through 2018.

Breaking through the barriers of the digital sphere can be challenging, but the rewards are immense. Organizations that partner with high-tech companies can ultimately make better data-driven decisions that lead to safer, smarter cities.

Erin Latham founded Mo’mix Solutions with the goal of delivering software and services that drive better outcomes for the public sector and education.

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