There is no denying that data impacts nearly every aspect of our lives. From the time we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night data can be linked to the vast majority of our activities. Personal data is used to access our accounts, marketing data is collected as we scroll the internet and make purchases, health data is collected during doctor visits, and broadscale demographic data is collected to understand population and cultural trends, just to name a few of the ways data is constantly impacting our lives.
Although we don’t think about very much of the data swirling around us all the time, some of it can have very significant real-world impacts. In fact, some of the data being collected in real-time can work towards making our lives better and safer. Advances in data collection are being used to come up with real-world solutions.
These real-world applications are especially relevant in the public sector. Today, many of the professionals that are serving the public are capitalizing on data in order to discover trends, analyze system weaknesses, and ultimately make them more effective at doing their jobs. We may not always notice it, but some of the data utilized in these projects could very well save our lives one day.
In Public Safety
Real-time data analysis has a profound role to play in the world of public safety. For example, the technology can be used to help reduce the likelihood of traffic accidents and fatalities. The tech can be used to alter conditions on the roadway such as how frequently traffic lights turn or adjustable speed limits.
The data analytics system uses long-term crash trend data to determine what conditions typically lead to higher accident risks. Then it collects real-time input data from multiple different sources including things like volume of traffic, average speed of traffic, traffic control system status, and weather conditions to analyze the risk of accidents in a given area. If the risk is high, the system can prompt managers to make changes in traffic control systems in order to improve safety outcomes.
Large, well-connected systems can add tools such as drones to get an even higher quality picture of public safety situations on the ground. For instance, first responders can send drones ahead of them into an area and get real-time information on the best way to respond to dangerous situations like natural disasters or technical rescues.
This all adds up to increased situational awareness as well. Data intake increases perception of status, attributes, and dynamics of environmental elements. Those who comprehend those elements can project how they will affect the future operational environment — for example, if a wildfire were to break out, first responders and public safety officials could use current weather data, past weather and disaster data, and population figures to determine when an evacuation would need to occur.
The benefits of real-time data collection in the public sector don’t stop with public safety out on the streets though. These systems also have powerful benefits elsewhere. The healthcare system is another example of how real-time data collection and analytics can benefit the public and the greater good.
In recent years the number of healthcare consultations and meetings that take place remotely has skyrocketed. Nearly three-quarters of all initial meetings with specialists now take place via video conferencing. Rather than having to travel miles to meet with a specialist in a big city, millions of people can now access quality healthcare from their homes. It can make a profound difference in the number of people that are willing to get care for things like minor injuries, check-ups, postoperative follow-ups, and some diagnostic visits.
Other forms of data collection in the healthcare system can also make a real difference in the quality of care that patients receive. For instance, hospitals can measure things like patient care outcomes, rates of certain diseases, and quality of care ratings and compare them to demographic data including age, race, and gender to determine weaknesses in the system and strive to make positive changes.
This data collection also helped to fuel situational awareness in our daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The average citizen could follow news updates, listen to data about infection rates and the virus’s proximity to their communities, and compare that to information pertinent to themselves. People leaned on increased situational awareness to make informed decisions and opinions about when it was safe to go out again.
Bringing it Together
What makes real-time data collection so powerful is its ability to be shared across departments, sectors, and even industries rapidly as needed. Cloud data has allowed different organizations to bring together their data in one place for the common good of the people in the community they are working in. Ultimately, this can add up to even bigger benefits.
An example of this in action can serve to help paint the picture. Imagine real-time traffic data collected has predicted a higher risk of vehicle accidents. As traffic control managers are implementing lower speeds to ease the risk, an aggressive driver pulls out in front of someone and causes an accident. Real-time data from first responders is collected and shared via the cloud with the local hospital. Medical experts are able to better prepare for the patients that come to the hospital and ultimately have better patient outcomes because of it.
In another example, first responders use real-time drone data to create a plan of operations to rescue people during post-hurricane flooding. The data collected helps them better prepare for the risks and ultimately leads to a more successful operation. People in need of treatment are connected with the local hospital, which has already set up numerous video conferencing stations to treat patients with minor injuries and check in on patients without overwhelming the facility itself.
The value of real-time data in the public sector cannot be understated. The data is already regularly used to improve performance, increase safety, and potentially even save lives.