Adopting a Data-Driven Post-COVID World


Adopting a Data-Driven Post-COVID World

Building a data-driven culture isn’t easy, but it’s important.

If some government agencies were taking small steps toward digital transformation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus certainly accelerated movement in that direction. The global spread of the virus has ushered in mass behavior and work changes that will have a long-lasting impact on how agencies operate and improve the types of interactions citizens have with government.

Federal agencies that invested in modern technology such as automation and cloud infrastructures, cybersecurity improvements, scalable collaboration solutions, and data management practices, have been able to further transition into a digital environment to accommodate the surge in teleworking and delivery of digital services to citizens, according to Federal CIO Suzette Kent. Those agencies that did not are now playing catch up.

Adopting a more data-driven culture and harnessing the power of data analytics can help agencies begin or speed up their digital transformation journey. A data-driven public sector seeks to transform the design, delivery, and monitoring of public policies and services through the management and use of data. Data, and proper access to that data, is the key.

Agencies Leveraging Data

Multiple agencies have leveraged data and technology such as artificial intelligence to ramp up and inform their COVID-19 response-related actions, Kent noted in a blog. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services created a system, in nine days, called HHS Protect, which provides a common operating picture of the spread, impact, and behavior of the virus so members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force can analyze policy options with data insights.

On the municipal side, the City of Boston launched two data analytic dashboards that allow residents to easily track the number of cases of COVID-19 across the city and throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The dashboards are part of a suite of digital tools available to residents, which include a texting service available in six languages, online city services, and frequently updated resources and factsheets available on

Going forward agencies will need the right digital transformation strategy, harnessing the power of data, to deploy the right intelligent technologies and platforms needed to push data-driven innovation that can be deployed directly into government processes.

What’s Needed 

How then can public sector agencies adopt a data-driven culture that will help infuse data into every decision-making process? Here are some steps to consider:

1) Improve Data Maturity.  Agencies need the ability to collect, report, and analyze data. However, they first must understand where they are in their Data Maturity Curve, which measures how advanced an organization’s data analysis capability is. Knowing where an agency is on the curve will help maximize the value of data while minimizing risk. The curve includes:

  • The Data Maturity Curve starts at zero, Lack of Data for Analytical Projects, where key data sources are never or inadequately collected and stored. Data is collected manually with significant errors.
  • Many agencies might be in the first stage, Isolated Data Projects, where business units work with data throughout an agency in an uncoordinated fashion with no shared definitions and process, though the beginnings of a data-driven culture may be present.
  • Or they may be in the second stage, Secure, Reliable Data Repository, where a data warehouse or lake system with well-defined management and governance are utilized to provide a foundational system for reporting, data science, and key operational users.

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Adopting a Data-Driven Post-COVID World