The pandemic has deepened inequalities, leaving the most vulnerable exposed to harsh economic blows. How can governments design policies and support schemes that can help citizens weather the crisis?

Governments will need to have a clear understanding of citizens’ real needs, and social media analytics can help. Understanding ground sentiments can aid manpower agencies to craft effective policies that will help retrenched individuals get back to work as fast as possible, notes Julian Quinn, Senior Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan at Alteryx.

Quinn, along with Jordan Barker, Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific and Japan, shares how data has helped governments craft smarter policies and make informed decisions.

What smart policymaking looks like

Data can help governments design smarter, more effective policies. This applies to national economic strategies, as well as specific sectors.

For instance, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre in Thailand used spatial analytics to gain agricultural and land use insights. Farmers could then maximise yields by planting crops in their optimum seasons.

Boosting this sector is crucial for Thailand. “Agriculture employs 40 per cent of Thailand’s workforce but only contributes 10 per cent to its economy,” Barker says. If jobs disappear, the nation will have to deal with immense socioeconomic consequences.

As Singapore ventures into vertical farming, analytics could help to increase crop yields, Barker adds. This would bring the country towards its aim of producing more food locally.

Transport is another sector that has benefitted from analytics. Australian cities used Alteryx’s services to analyse the revenue and use patterns of transport fare cards. They also pooled data from pedestrian sensors, train delays and average wait times to optimise train timetables.

Social demographic data was useful when choosing locations for a new bus or train interchange, Quinn says. “Where is the center of gravity around the population? Is it around the university hubs, or a high-tech manufacturing plant?” City governments can then design services around them to allow people to get to work easily.

Making it easy with self-service analytics

Achieving big things with analytics doesn’t have to be complex. Here are three ways Alteryx makes data easy for governments to understand and work with.

First, the Alteryx Analytic Process Automation platform is designed to be self-service. That means public officers don’t need formal coding training to be able to draw insights from the data.

Alteryx provides a guided tutorial for navigating the data, automatically creates insights, and explains those insights so employees can understand how the algorithm came to that conclusion. “It isn’t black box; it’s explainable in layman’s terms,” notes Barker.

Second, it makes working with data a lot more efficient. A life insurance company used to take three weeks, three types of tech and five people to report its quarterly earnings to the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Alteryx helped to bring this down to just two types of tech and one person, all within a week.

“No longer were they just reporting what had happened, they can now actually better forecast their quarterly and monthly revenue,” Barker shares.

Third, Alteryx works across all data types. This includes weather information, IoT data, and even video footage. Its platform can be easily integrated with facial recognition tech or used to monitor the people heading into the airport during the pandemic, Barker explains.

Governments have access to more data than ever before. Self-service analytics can help each public servant make the most of it to find new insights, be more efficient and design more targeted policies.