Indiana's big data push


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Indiana is beginning a big data push this summer, purchasing SAP’s HANA box that will help the state do in-depth analytics in an effort improve the lives of its citizens, Chief Information Officer Paul Baltzell told StateScoop.

The state will begin analyzing infant mortality and child fatalities using data from a variety of sources, including its own health and police departments and the education system, to find correlating factors that can drop the rate.

“If you can save only one child, there is no way to put a price tag on that,” said Baltzell, a father of three that became Indiana’s CIO this past January after serving as the department’s deputy. “We have a real opportunity to make government better,” something Baltzell credited Indiana Governor Mike Pence with, saying his vision to take government from “good to great” inspired the work.

Baltzell said Indiana will begin the project in July following the procurement and a consulting session with SAP. The HANA box is an appliance software and database configuration that enables answering queries in seconds and can even execute parallel searches simultaneously.

Going forward the state will also look at areas like fraud and job programs as targets for improvement through big data analysis and is tying all of its work to be compliant with the National Information Exchange Model, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s government information sharing environment.

“We’re in a good place right now,” Baltzell said. “We can get away from some of the normal functions of IT, because a lot of that stuff has already been done and shift our focus on how to use technology in different ways.”

The state is also looking to update the terms and conditions in its contracts to include new wording that mentions data sharing and that all work must be compliant with information sharing standards. Baltzell said the state’s vendors already do that – and there haven’t been any issues – but he just wants to clean up the language to avoid any possible discrepancies down the road.

All of this is possible because Indiana has worked hard to get its information technology house in order, which has been strongly helped by the fact that each of the three times a state CIO has left the government, he or she has been replaced by the state’s deputy.

Baltzell said Indiana has already completed initiatives like data center consolidation, an information technology modernization project and virtualization, allowing for more time and resources to be pointed toward big data.

Outside of that project, Baltzell is in the process of establishing a project management office that will help the state get in front of IT contracts with new metrics for state-run IT projects such as looking at time of delivery.

The state is also looking to implement a contracts module on its PeopleSoft platform that will add electronic signatures. Baltzell said that project will take a few years to expand throughout the state’s government but, when completed, could improve the state’s efficiency and take it away from a paper-based model.

As for larger trends among state CIOs, Baltzell said there is a lot of worry these days around FirstNet, the first responders’ network. He said Indiana – and other states – are doing their due diligence on the project, but are still waiting on more information about the state’s role in the projects.

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Big Data, Broadband, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Education & STEM, FirstNet, Indiana, Mike Pence, National Information Exchange Model, Paul Baltzell, PeopleSoft, State & Local News, States, Tech News, Virtualization