New Government & Education Data Cloud Breaks Down Barriers to Data-Driven Decision-Making

Snowflake’s cross-cloud data platform enables educational institutions and federal, state and local government to leverage the transformative power of data

Presented by Snowflake Snowflake's logo

In today’s era of Big Data, government and educational data are valuable public assets. Good data stewardship means not only collecting and protecting data, but also maximizing its utility as a public good. Siloed data management, however, prevents agencies and institutions from securely sharing mutually beneficial data — even as the federal government emphasizes its critical value. 

To overcome roadblocks to mission success, Snowflake, the Data Cloud company, announced the launch of its Government & Education Data Cloud. The solution aims to help the public and education sectors harness the full power of data by uniting Snowflake’s data platform and solutions with industry-specific datasets and partner-delivered solutions. 

Integrations and out-of-the-box solutions from technology partners like AWS, Collibra and Immuta, for example, enable deeper insights and modern data governance roadmaps, while consulting partners like Plante Moran and Deloitte leverage Snowflake’s Government & Education Data Cloud to help the public sector solve top-priority issues.

At the June 7 AWS Summit in Washington, D.C., Jeff Frazier, global head of public sector at Snowflake, and Winston Chang, Snowflake’s chief technology officer for public sector, highlighted the potential of government data and its value to the public.

“When you look at governments, our largest producers and consumers of data around the world … how do we put that to use, and who stands to benefit?” Frazier said. “If you take the role of data, and the impact it has on your own institution — if you're able to share it with others and not lose control, and able to enrich it to make decisions, you should be able to have this 360-degree view of what's going on.”

Before sharing crucial information, however, government entities must overcome obstacles created by disparate tools, solutions and platforms, as well as dated legacy infrastructure. Educational campuses, which often operate like small governments, struggle with similar challenges. These complications hinder research and collaboration, and result in makeshift solutions that increase security risks. Many government technologists also feel a sense of ownership over their department or agency’s data, making silos difficult to break.

“Data is a valuable resource. It's as valuable as, say, our national parks, our freshwater supply, our oil reserves, the biodiversity of the animal species that we have. It is critical and can always help our citizens, our businesses, our economies and even make a difference in our wars,” Chang said. “But if you're a data steward, your role has actually changed. It's not just protection anymore, it's also about the management and the maximization of that value as a public good.”

On a daily basis, efficient data sharing encourages partnerships and allows institutions to develop 360-degree operational views. When an emergency strikes, collaboration becomes even more vital. Timing is a matter of life and death. Multiple organizations must be able to quickly establish a common operating picture to achieve full situational awareness. 

As an example, Frazier cited 2022 Hurricane Ian, which resulted in significant death and destruction across the state of Florida, and drew thousands of people who wanted to help. Merit, a Snowflake partner, assisted in organizing responders.

“The government turned to data,” Frazier said. “They were able to organize thousands of volunteers who wanted to help and strategically reallocate people where they could be most beneficially impactful. And what would have taken weeks, they did in hours.”

On top of streamlining operations, the Government & Education Data Cloud prioritizes security and compliance. Among other standards, it has achieved FedRAMP Moderate and StateRAMP High, and is “In Process” for FedRAMP High in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud (US West) Region. This level of protection doesn’t come at the expense of flexibility, Chang said, noting the importance of being able “to provide access in multiple shades of gray.”

Between public sector agencies and institutions of higher education, vast amounts of data have the potential to enhance the lives of citizens and students. The White House underscores the importance of “the public’s access to data to better advance equity, engage the public in the regulatory process, make government records more accessible to the public, and improve the delivery of government services and benefits.” The raw materials and commitment to good data stewardship are there, institutions just need the right tools to harness them.

“We’re so excited about what we can bring to the government and the ecosystem to help those people who need it most thrive,” Frazier said. 

Learn more about how Snowflake’s Government & Education Data Cloud can help the public sector unleash the power of data.

This content is made possible by our sponsor Snowflake; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of GovExec’s editorial staff.

NEXT STORY: Everyone means everyone: Okta’s ongoing path to accessibility