How data virtualization can help government hone services and cut costs
- By Suresh Chandrasekaran
- Nov 21, 2013
The move toward opening government data for public use is gaining momentum because of successful initiatives at the federal, state and local levels and across international borders. Designed to provide a safer, more transparent world and stimulate the economy, these initiatives are making great strides in promoting innovation and business growth while forging collaboration between domestic and international agencies.
Despite these benefits, the government has to maintain this momentum while also facing increased budget pressure and an expanding number of complex information sources that must be delivered in a fast and highly secure manner. As a result, more government agencies are looking to data virtualization technology to provide better information sharing, timely delivery and a superior knowledge base to gain faster business insights.
Data virtualization integrates data assets from disparate sources, regardless of the location of the data source, in order to create logical, unified, federated, virtual data views for any user or front-end solution such as applications, dashboards, portals, intranet or search. Because of the exploding volume of data assets and a growing number of fragmented data sources, government agencies are realizing that physical consolidation of data is not ideal for meeting all of their data integration needs.
Replication and physical consolidation of data has its place, but it also involves greater storage and license costs, higher response time to changes, latency in data delivery, more maintenance effort and more staff resources. As a result, agencies are deploying data virtualization across several key domains:
The National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute use data virtualization to transform genome data from the Cancer Genome Atlas to the International Cancer Genome Consortium format in a scalable manner to make this information available to a larger research community.
The European Union Homeland Security deployed data virtualization for situation awareness and crisis management among multiple security agencies. By accessing a diverse set of law enforcement databases, Web data and distributed sensors, data virtualization allowed the agency to create a unified data layer and deliver intelligence feeds and alerts on a real-time basis.
Social Interest Solutions, a non-profit, set up data virtualization to enable the One-e-App application that provides a single interface for underserved people to submit electronic applications and identify eligibility for multiple federal, state, local, private and nonprofit programs.
One of the biggest benefits of data integration for both defense and intelligence agencies is the ability to integrate and deliver data in an agile and secure manner.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Inspector General chose data virtualization to quickly and efficiently provide a unified view of its disparate data sources to reporting and predictive analytics systems. The IG’s data is spread across hundreds of structured and unstructured sources, and the office needed to provide a unified view and access to internal as well as external data sources from other federal agencies and Web sources. The data virtualization solution will enable the IG’s office to reduce costs (by minimizing manual data extraction efforts) and deliver timely and comprehensive data to consuming users and systems. The insight from these systems will strengthen the IG’s ability to identify and prevent fraudulent activities.
By deploying data virtualization, government agencies can complete complex data integration projects, maintain costs and meet complex security requirements. The technology also enables them to build the flexibility they need to adapt to changing landscapes and meet long term goals. As federal, state and even local agencies strive to access and disseminate information at a large scale, they are increasingly leveraging data virtualization to enable agile, cost-effective data integration.