As 2018 comes to a close, the GovDataDownload team is looking back on some of the invaluable insights we’ve gathered from our Data Visionaries over the past 12 months. Given the massive impact that data has on our everyday lives, one of the questions we like to ask these Data Visionaries is, “In what way have you seen data directly impact your life?” Here are some of our favorite responses to that question:
Shortly after my athletic career, I was asked to get involved in a Board to try and bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. While unsuccessful at winning, what we did do was bring a community together to fight a pressing issue: gun violence.
In an Alliance with some of the local sports teams as well as the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, we were able to take legacy funding from the Olympic campaign and gather continuous data to engage and serve those that were validated as at an elevated risk. The Alliance is ongoing as gun violence is still very real in parts of Chicago, but the goal is to continue to leverage impactful programs, track their performance, and invest in solutions that could possibly generate better evidence to guide policy and practice in the future.
Just the other day, I was helping my son build a door for his basement. We bought everything we needed at the home improvement store and by the time we go back to my son’s house, I had a call from the credit card company asking me if I had purchased a pizza in Brooklyn. The credit card company used data to see that I couldn’t be at a hardware store in Baltimore at 11:30 and a pizza place in Brooklyn at 11:45. It sent up an alert and then they called me.
They used their analytics tools on the data they captured to protect me from fraud. And that is something that is going to continue to grow as the compute, storage, and data infrastructure continues to grow. I don’t have to wait to get my credit card statement to know that someone spent thirty thousand dollars on my account. The bank can now stop fraud in its tracks.
t is hard to say how data hasn’t changed each of our lives. But the most impactful way that I see data has changed my life from day-in to day-out is through traffic apps. I have a lengthy commute to the office and depend on the traffic apps to minimize my time behind the wheel.
Even when vacationing with my family, I have greater trust in these traffic apps than car-based GPS systems. We are avid snow skiers and often we are escaping to the mountains. One Christmas break, our family was supposed to head to Pennsylvania to hit the slopes with another family. Our car was loaded with my wife, kids, and Christmas presents. Snow started to fall. Virginia was facing a snow storm, and the data from all of these weather and traffic apps were notifying us of road closures along our route.
We could have stayed home and missed the trip. But with the data in-hand, we took a rural route through West Virginia. With snow chains on our tires, we kept moving along. It was slow and steady, and we were the only car on the road taking this route. We trusted the app and followed it based on that trust. At the end of the trip, we arrived at our cabin hours before the other families, and now we have a lifelong memory that we wouldn’t otherwise have.
Data is the crown jewel and continues to become more and more valuable in all aspects of our lives. As we talk about the mission side, the way in which we view, utilize, secure, present, and empower our customers with relevant data is critical. It enables them to be efficient and effective in protecting the interests of our soldiers and our country.
More personally, as a father of three, my wife and I continue to be amazed by the access to and role data plays in our children’s education. The amount and the availability of the data opens a wide spectrum that can lead to a different level of creative and critical thinking for so many students.