Exposing and making available the Federal Government’s extensive and often very big datasets, such as Medicare claims data and public health data, has the potential to significantly increase accountability and transparency of government services and programs, to improve delivery of services to the citizenry and to foster innovation by way of new value-added applications that access the data. In recognition of the value of exposing data as a way of realizing this potential, the White House’s open data initiative, “data.gov”, mandates that agencies release public use data sets. Additionally, agencies are experiencing an increasing demand for access to programmatic and application datasets from within their own organizations, as well as from other sources, and in particular from the private sector. This demand is creating the need for “Data-as-a-Service” (DaaS) solutions and for tools and capabilities that facilitate the exploration, analysis and exchange of an agency’s data. Meeting this demand and realizing the potential benefits of DaaS can be challenging for agencies already struggling to do more with less and to manage large, complex application and enterprise datasets and databases.
Acentia recognized early the significant impact that the demand for DaaS and analytics – in short the impact of “Big Data” – could have on our customers. Acentia offers full-lifecycle services ranging from strategy and planning, cloud-based DaaS infrastructure implementation, analytics and modeling, and database maintenance.
- Strategy and Planning. Two key issues facing any agency considering offering data as a service or simply releasing a public use dataset are:
- To define the objectives of the service: what does the agency hope to accomplish by releasing the data.
- To select, prepare, organize and maintain the data that can and should be released in order to accomplish the objectives.
Whether the objective is broadly to increase transparency, or more specifically, to improve the performance of a specific program or to facilitate the development of innovative applications, necessitates careful consideration of what data can and should be released. Most Government agencies have purpose-built information systems with custom databases that were not designed to support interactive or on-demand data services. In such cases it may be necessary to integrate data from different sources and reconcile and validate data elements across sources. Acentia specializes in assisting agencies in planning their DaaS and public use offerings.
- DaaS Implementation and Infrastructure. Whether an agency’s aim is simply to release a public use file or more broadly to offer DaaS on a continuing basis requires consideration of several factors. In what format will data be released: as a simple text file, importable into a SAS or R via a script, or accessible from a relational database, for example? What documentation will be provided? How often will the data be updated? Are the data static or real time? Will the data be hosted in the cloud or are they to be downloaded by the user? Will the agency provide an analysis platform in the cloud to promote sharing of analyses and sharing of analytical results? What analytics tools will the agency support? Over the range of possibilities from the release of a simple text-based public use file to the implementation of a dynamic, scalable analytics platform in the cloud, Acentia can help agencies achieve their open data and DaaS goals.
Full Range of Analytics. Exploratory analyses, predictive modeling, visualizations and graphics, text mining, data mashups, map-reduce design patterns: whatever the analytic or data visualization challenge, Acentia has the expertise, partnerships and tools to assist customers in extracting full value from their data to improve mission operations, deliver services and reduce costs.
Acentia delivers best-in-class, full-lifecycle DaaS solutions and data analytics and visualization services – helping government customers plan, prepare and operationalize their data services. We ensure that public use data sets and big data mashups deliver measurable and tangible benefits made possible by the new analytic and Data-as-a-Service paradigms.
Although vendor agnostic, our combination of technology vendor partnerships, analysis partners and certified staff experts gives us the skills, insight, and access to leverage the very latest analytic tools and innovations on behalf of our customers. We work with a variety of analysis tools including SAS, R, SAS JMP, Hadoop, Tableau and a variety of business intelligence (BI) and reporting tools.