Data Driven Governance

The biggest issue in collective data today, when it comes to governance is not the absence of it, but its presence in large disaggregated sets which hinder maximum potential utilization. The real value of data hence, lies in its harnessing to help decision-makers make practical/effective decisions, on a real-time basis. The global shift in the amalgamation of social awareness and tech-savvy citizens means that governments too needed to change their style of governance. This has resulted in the adoption and utilization of data analytics to pre-emptively respond to citizen needs, as well as in steering strategies, all the while maintaining an elevated degree of transparency. For example, the New York City’s civic intelligence center, called the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA), aggregates and analyzes data across city agencies, effectively addressing issues like public safety, crime, quality of life etc. MODA has access to agencies like Center for Economic Opportunity, which employs metrics for strengthening the anti-poverty initiatives in the city, while the NYC Open Data, makes the collective data from various city agencies, easily accessible to the public. Though fairly new to the data-driven governance scene, when employed efficiently, data-science is transforming the governance landscape in India significantly, by not only steering mission-mode programs but also helping in risk-measurement, formulation of new policies, enhancing operational efficiencies, enabling faster decision-making etc. A successful example of one of the most comprehensive e-Governance initiatives in India is that of Andhra Pradesh and the CM Office Real-time Executive (CORE) Dashboard or the colloquial CM-Dashboard. Wherein, data collected from every government department was digitized to launch a real-time monitoring of performance, which unlike conventional methods of data updating via tools like Excel, is updated automatically. The CORE Dashboard grants the chief minister access to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of all the government departments and other governance parameters, ranging from the power generated daily to forest plantation rates, from water levels to tax revenues etc. The overarching scope of the dashboard within two years of piloting has started to make a material impact on Andhra Pradesh’s economy, by not only solving ground level problems but also setting high level- macro targets. The key differentiator, for the CM-Dashboard in Andhra Pradesh, was a departure from conventional reactionary governance; by employing data scientists for predictive modeling, which facilitated the augmentation of pro-active governance. For example, gauging the public’s opinion of state schemes and initiatives pre-implementation, via social sentiment analysis frameworks at every stage of deployment, the government managed to optimize/customize the schemes towards most conducive results. Hence, pre-emptive corrective measures via predictive analysis can avoid cost and time overruns for a project, by minimizing attrition. The insights and information/patterns generated from data analytics could help in ushering in a new era of governance, which is aided by intelligent information. With more and more states following Andhra Pradesh’s suite, there seems to be no looking back for analytics; as government authorities have started intensifying their reliance on data science for strategizing and effective decision makin; making data-driven governance, an aspirational standard for better governance.

Author: Chhavi Jain, Vice President


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