Turning raw data into actionable insight allows state officials in New Jersey to better serve citizens, N.J. Secretary of State Tahesha Way said at a virtual event hosted by FCW on April 27.

“We utilize data to better serve New Jersey’s nine million-plus residents to make our operations more efficient and effective,” Way said.

In this age of big data, Way adds, the capacity to understand, assess, and even challenge data has become increasingly valuable for making the right decisions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials relied heavily on data to gain valuable insight and decide the next steps in protecting residents.

But data’s vital role in government “extends beyond tracking infections and case counts. We have utilized data to make critical decisions for improving citizen services, managing transportation, improving our local tourism, supporting local businesses, to name only a few,” Way said.

One of the examples Way highlighted was how the state utilized raw data to inform how to manage voting efforts during local and Federal elections, this included the distribution of voting machines and required mail-in ballots. Voting data, such as the expected number of voters per county, was used to determine how to best support citizens as they “performed their basic right to vote.”

Way also highlighted how after the pandemic increasing tourism was key to boosting the state’s economy. Data was a critical tool in the state’s efforts to increase the attraction of New Jersey as a travel destination and as a result, increases the amount of revenue the state collects.

“For example, we used data to decipher the sort of travelers that we are seeing in the state. This allows us to monitor the impact that tourism has on our economy and therefore we know how we can improve to ensure a thriving economy for our state,” Way said.

Data, Way added, allows state officials to have critical information at hand to ensure they make significant decisions, so they better serve their constituents.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.