Analytics could help tackle social welfare fraud – EMC

23 Jul 2011

Data analytics technology could allow the Government to gauge more accurately the extent of social welfare fraud and to clamp down on any abuses of the system, EMC has claimed.

The data management giant said its country manager Jason Ward is to seek a meeting with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, TD, who is preparing an anti-fraud plan based on what she has called ‘zero tolerance’.

In a statement, Ward said data analytics technology would allow Government departments to gather data on abuses of the social welfare system, so that what are believed to be widespread cases are replaced by facts.

“The Government admitted that it does not have the capacity to minutely analyse a raft of social services information to identify flaws in the system. Global high-tech players like EMC can help the Government to get a proper fix on a social trend it feels is prevalent – but perhaps only has anecdotal or unscientific evidence to back up certain assertions,” he said.

Technology vendors take on analytics

Analytics is a growing space for many technology vendors, with many of the largest players seeking to meet a need to mine more insightful decision-making information from the masses of data that businesses build up over years. Privately-held SAS has advocated business intelligence systems for years; Microsoft talks up the analytics and reporting capability in its Dynamics business software suite, and IBM has a range of tools aimed at diving into data and uncovering key pieces of strategic information.

The trend isn’t exclusive to large multinationals: indigenous software houses like Nathean Technologies are also playing in this space. Nathean’s pitch is that the heavy lifting involved in traditional business intelligence projects is unnecessary; the Dublin firm claims its approach allows reporting tools to be set up within days rather than months.

EMC’s recently acquired Greenplum technology works on a similar basis, said to perform queries in near real time. Analytics could allow social problems to be measured more scientifically, Ward claimed.

“With EMC Greenplum, a Government department would have the ability to cross-reference data and provide near real-time queries of huge volumes of data to uncover trends and perform predictive analytics on future trends to support new policies,” he said.

The Government would have the information needed to track sudden changes in social needs, such as a spike in youth unemployment rates or an increased incidence of rejection of upskilling and re-education places.

“More detailed information would help Government to better target public policy instruments and more efficiency spend scare public resources. Data analytics could enable more evidence-based policy-making in social services and other public policy areas,” Ward said.

Photo: Jason Ward, country manager, EMC

Jason Ward will be part of the panel discussion and Q&A with Lord David Puttnam at the Digital Ireland Forum – Friday, 30 September, 2011

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic