Industry leaders at a recent big data conference addressed the fact that a growing number of cities are beginning to buy big data about their municipalities – being mashed up by startup companies – to help city leaders get a better handle on what’s happening in their cities regarding crime rates, poverty, traffic congestion, etc.
For instance, seven cities across the U.S. – New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Milwaukee, and Newark, New Jersey – are using big data through an app called SpotHero that helps residents and visitors track down parking garages and lots.
Users type addresses or neighborhoods into the app and are then provided a list of nearby parking garages and lots as well as pricing and time durations through a big data analytics search query.
The use of big data to better understand and act on problems in a particular region isn’t just a city-specific trend. State and federal agencies are also using big data and analytics to drive innovations. In some cities across the U.S., 1 percent of the population accounts for as much as 30 percent of hospital costs.
Maryland, for instance, is using data gathered by the state health information exchange along with analytics to help health system, Medicaid, and public health officials identify trends and better utilize resources. The effort is paying dividends. A few years ago, the state set a goal to lower hospital readmissions by 15 percent by 2015. The state has already lowered its readmissions rate by 11 percent to 12 percent.
One of the most successful uses of big data on the federal level involves the multi-agency Medicare Fraud Strike Force. The group has used big data to uncover $452 million in false billings – the biggest crackdown in Medicaid fraud in history. FBI Special Agent-in-Charge David Welker has said that 3 percent to 10 percent of the nation’s $2.5 trillion in healthcare expenditures are attributed to fraud.