Guest Blog: Importance of Building a Predictive Modelling & Analytics Capability

Too many decisions are based on reacting to events rather than proactively using data sources to predict what may occur. By taking a new approach to urban and rural scenario planning using new technology and predictive analytics, could fundamentally change what individuals and governments invest in going forward.

The use of predictive modelling and advanced analytics will change how we assess situational awareness and make investment decisions. This ability depends on good connectivity and the ability to share the right data. By no means should all our personal data be shared but an open source approach does enable more data to be collected and then analysed.

Data analytics and predictive modelling are different to other technologies. These applications are linked to other technologies, they have value in all parts of the organisation and rely as much on human skills as digital systems. However, when compared with other emerging technologies, data analytics applications are being piloted approximately five times more than they are being implemented.

Part of the reason why the implementation rate is so low is that analytics capabilities cannot be purchased “off the shelf”. Supporting systems and data services can be added quickly, but organisations need to apply these effectively to their own data - this takes time. Much of that time is spent in experimenting, or piloting.

This highlights the fact that data analytics is more of an organisational capability than a specific technology. But while organisations have always tried to analyse data, several new methods, plus increased storage and computing power, are enabling more powerful applications to emerge.

However, when viewed holistically it has the power to change the daily lives of citizens. For example, Barcelona City Council, who promote the development of CityOS, an experimental operating system that streamlines the collection and analysis of information across all city services to help anticipate needs and improve citizen’s assistance services. CityOS will foster citizens’ control of data and the common good by incorporating the principles of responsible innovation and ethics in data management.

CityOS is designed to leverage the technology required, to strengthen Barcelona’s position as a city that is innovative, sustainable and works for the common good. The possibility to analyse data through CityOS will increase the efficiency and efficacy of city services, helping to improve predictability, anticipate emergencies, provide real-time support to decision-making and improve citizens’ quality of life. The system will operate through an extensive network of sensors that capture data from multiple sources, which will gather information to be reviewed using state-of-the art information analysis methods. The open source nature of CityOS will also enable the city to develop a new economy based on Big Data.

While having the data in one place and utilising it is important, the implementation of this depends on identifying which problems need to be solved – the right use cases. You need to be able to demonstrate the value of predictive analytics, by telling the story for this through real-life, examples. The capabilities need to be designed alongside this and the approach will then need to be applied across all aspects of the local authority, both urban and rural.

Guest blog by Sam Nash, UK Cities and Local Government Consulting Lead for Accenture UK for techUK's "Good to Great Connectivity for the UK" Week.

Get involved at #ConnectedFuture. More information is available on techUK’s Communications Infrastructure Programme.

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