Data is a strategic asset, and it is everywhere, so generating it is not the challenge. The challenge is how to derive value from the data to make more informed, insightful decisions.
Most government agencies have more data than they know what to do with. The amount of data that government agencies collect, store, analyze, share, and secure is increasing exponentially and will continue as more activities are carried out online and in digitally connected spaces. No matter your mission, as a government agency, data is your biggest asset but can also be your biggest challenge.
Most agencies do not have complete internal data inventories and are challenged in finding, connecting, and sharing data. Without metadata standards and the ability to quickly search and find both structured and unstructured data, an agency cannot operate effectively or efficiently. According to some estimates, as much as 90 percent of the data generated today is unstructured.
Unstructured data is in legacy archives, support records, chat logs, legal documents, social media posts, HR documentation, and a multitude of other places.
Data is often siloed under the stewardship of different departments—usually by whoever collected it. Others who might find it useful, regardless of their role, either have no way to access it or are unaware that it even exists. This means that all the potential value within that data is effectively locked and dispersed across multiple standalone, on-premises repositories.
How can agencies harness this data to unlock its value?
Thanks to the rapid emergence of cloud-based artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) platforms, agencies can now leverage “as a service” technologies. Agencies can simply tap into the existing architecture of service providers to use AI tools if and when they need them.
Today, there are two types of solutions that help address these data challenges: intelligent document processing (IDP) and content services platforms (CSPs) powered by AI/ML. IDP solutions transform unstructured and semi-structured information into usable data. CSPs provide a way to retrieve and work with content seamlessly to consolidate, leverage, govern, and protect all information.
Review the Artificial Intelligence White Paper as a resource to learn more about the value of government data.
AI/ML in action
Iron Mountain has seen these solutions work for agencies across the public sector, including:
- A state government turned to a CSP with AI/ML capabilities to digitize and handle tens of thousands of unemployment claims and supporting documents, giving 1,500 active users access to searchable extracted data, even while working remotely during the pandemic.
- A federal agency is employing AI/ML to convert more than 170,000 reels of original silver microfilm with varying degrees of degradation. AI/ML will allow agency personnel to extract 15 data fields with upwards of 95 percent accuracy.
How can your agency embark on this AI/ML journey?
A time-phased rational approach is the best way to begin. This starts with assessing retention requirements, identifying data silos (structured or unstructured), examining digitization/workflow status, and reviewing access and activity levels.
Agencies should consider these key points before taking their first steps on the journey toward AI-driven insights:
- Fit technology to your mission, not the other way around
- Look for quick wins with demonstrable ROI
- Buy versus build – COTS solutions are available
- Choose the right partner
Iron Mountain InSight® provides one of the industry’s most advanced CSPs to help government agencies unlock the hidden value of their content—wherever it resides—through modern, AI-infused content-driven applications and federated search capabilities. Iron Mountain InSight® is available through the Iron Mountain cooperative contract with OMNIA Partners.