This post was originally published on the Resonant Analytics blog on May 8, 2015.
After a lengthy appeal process, a US appeals court recently ruled that the wide sweeping government collection of phone data was illegal. The NSA was found to be collecting phone numbers and the number of calls made to those numbers. Although this overstep by the NSA has had dramatic effects on national and foreign relations, not everything that governments do with big data will make you want to buy a tin foil hat and hide under your desk.
Vice News journalist Meg Charlton recently reported on a joint venture between the City University of New York (CUNY) and New York City government. The program, called New York City Labor Market Information Service (LMIS), uses data mining techniques to follow trends in industry demands. These insights are used to help training programs select curriculums and graduation dates to best coincide with industry needs and peak hiring times. This data collection effort helps supplement programs like the Department of Labor’s O*Net, which is a key resource in the workforce development field.
Another exciting development in government big data usage is coming out of Cuba. With the diplomatic thaw continuing between the United States and Cuba, our southern neighbor is preparing for an influx of American tourists. Although US tourists haven’t been allowed to visit Cuba in a long time, Latin American, European, and Canadian tourism brings around 2.8 million visitors a year. Cuba has hired a small Spanish analytics firm, SocialVane, to analyze social media for mentions of Cuba to identify issues, trends, and potentials for the tourism industry. Although Cuba still faces many challenges, such as poor internet speed (ranked 196 out of 200 globally) and a ban on satellite communications, this is a significant step forward for the small island nation.