There has been a great deal of buzz of late about big data and big government. This is the first of a series of blogs on the topic.

Steven VanRoekel, Federal Chief Information Officer, spoke on Federal News Radio this month about the impact unlocking Big Data will have on the lives of citizens. He said that he is now starting to build out policy and rules and working with agencies to change minds and “aggressively unlock data”.

IDCs Government Insights Predictions 2013 states that “Government organizations that promote open data will foster 25% more private commercial activity in apps and services that will facilitate improved outcomes across a range of government goals.”

  • provides over 370,000 raw data and geospatial data sets from 180 federal agencies/sub-agencies with 1,260 government- and 236 citizen developed apps.

Many innovative data-rich commercial Web sites now sit atop this wealth of information. NextGov: Government Data Goes Public talks about these entrepreneurial partnerships:

  • Zillow and Trulia, aggregate government data to inform real estate browsers about the quality of schools and medical care near a property, the crime rate, local broadband speeds and whether an organic farm may be nearby.

Google now displays drug-related information from the FDA and the National Library of Medicine when a drug name is searched:

google Search

But before government can effectively take advantage of these entrepreneurial opportunities, it will need to invest in more data-mining technology as well as workers with advanced degrees in data analytics.

A recent RFP from Virginia Tech, posted in Onvia’s Project Center describes just this need. The request for the development of a business intelligent system states there is currently no ability to leverage large, external datasets (Big Data) or derive value from unstructured data. The proposed solution is the “creation of an Enterprise Reporting Architecture from the ground up”.

At Onvia, we work with Big Data on a daily basis. By normalizing large amounts of unstructured project data, we are able to provide our clients with valuable information to improve their go-to-market strategy. Without normalization and cleansing, all the data in the world will not help promote an organization’s overall effectiveness.