Health and Human Services: Page 9 of 13


While the Watson supercomputer became a household word after its appearances on TV quiz show Jeopardy!, Council member IBM didn’t build it to be a novelty or high-tech curiosity. Far from it. Watson and its cognitive computing technology have been put to work in a variety of industries, from kitchens to hospitals. In a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Watson is sifting through millions of pages of patient records and medical literature to identify better and faster ways to treat the overwhelming number of war veterans who return home with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The four targets highlighted here demonstrate how analytics are particularly important as cities monitor trends and developments in public health.

Achieve full situational awareness. Smart cities use monitoring devices to take the pulse of the city and its people. Situational awareness aids that effort by increasing the reliability and resiliency of the public health infrastructure and those monitoring devices, allowing for quick response to incidents that threaten public health and well-being. Situational awareness depends on different systems being able to communicate about “where” and “when.” Thus open standards for encoding, discovering, assessing and using spatial and temporal data play a key role in health and human services analytics applications

Achieve operational optimization. Analytics help cities ensure the best possible public health outcomes. For example, they may reveal a sudden shift in air quality in a particular part of a city that requires corrective action. Or analysis of health records may reveal an abnormally high number of lung cancer cases in a community, prompting an investigation by public health officials.

Achieve asset optimization. The objective here is to ensure maximum value is extracted from a city’s investments in health and human services infrastructure – which includes everything from computers in offices to field devices that monitor things like water quality at public beaches. Calculating precisely which assets should be replaced or repaired and when helps achieve maximum return on investment.

Pursue predictive analytics. Analyzing health and human services data to spot patterns and

trends and take action before situations worsen can make a city more livable. By monitoring the path and characteristics of a virus, for instance, public health officials can predict where it will strike next and alert residents how they can protect themselves.

As we’ve said, predictive analytics can also help people understand what their own health might look like in the future, offering incentive for behavior changes.

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