July 10, 2019

Operational Intelligence in the Public Sector

Dave Kelly

Topic:   Industry Focus

Last updated: November 25th, 2020

What Could You Do With Real-Time Data?

Business intelligence (BI) focuses on the presentation of historical data, allowing stakeholders to examine trends and find hidden patterns in business processes that can improve efficiency, eliminate redundancies, and boost profitability. Automating processes and presenting easy-to-understand data visualizations create a competitive advantage and are a necessity for analysts and executives alike.

BI works extremely well when the business practice calls for a monthly, quarterly, or annual report. Examining month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, and year-over-year business metrics are the classic BI use cases. But, as is often the case in the public sector, what if you need to know what is happening right now?

BI examines static historical data, while operational intelligence (OI) can present live, real-time streaming analytics from not only traditional data sources but from IoT devices such as modems, sensors, cameras, and mobile devices.

Advancements in cloud computing and the speed with which big data can be processed have made operational intelligence an affordable reality. Where BI answers the question, “What has happened?”, OI answers the question “What is happening?”, and provides real-time insights for operators and leadership alike. BI examines static historical data, while OI can present live, real-time streaming analytics from not only traditional data sources but from IoT devices such as modems, sensors, cameras, and mobile devices.

The following examples illustrate how this powerful combination of insights can contextualize information for decision-makers:

Emergency Management

Imagine a natural disaster occurs in a local jurisdiction. Real-time OI would allow the emergency manager to geofence the affected area on a map and immediately identify the number of first responders residing within the disaster zone who are personally impacted vs. the number of first responders residing outside the disaster zone who are available for response. Presuming response equipment such as watercraft, aircraft, police cars, heavy equipment, and emergency medical vehicles are equipped with modems or GPS tracking devices, the emergency manager can instantly match available personnel to available response equipment, greatly improving response time.

Crowd Management

Picture this: an open-air concert is scheduled in the downtown streets of your city. By leveraging camera technology that can detect crowd size and vehicle traffic, and then relay this data in real-time to an operations center, public safety professionals can ensure that a sufficient number of officers is assigned throughout the duration of the event, enhancing the public’s safety and improving traffic conditions to and from the site. The number of assigned personnel can expand and contract in real-time, and their location can vary by need, mirroring crowd and traffic sizes, which allows officers to focus on other public safety duties once the crowd and traffic sizes are reduced.

Real-Time Alerts

Imagine you are a military intelligence analyst tasked with providing forward operations with information on hostile targets. You have a top-secret security clearance, which provides you access to classified systems. OI would allow you to flag any information relevant to your assignment and set a trigger that tells the system to alert you whenever new information about your targets reaches the database. In practice, this means that new information could be entered into the system from halfway around the world and without your knowledge, and that would trigger a message to you, providing you the opportunity to update the forward operation in real time, enhancing the safety and efficiency of the troops you serve.

Real-time data is a reality and OI can prove to be a critical differentiator to public sector professionals across all disciplines. Have you considered what real-time data could do to improve your area of responsibility?