Government Technology Insider had the opportunity to speak with Brian Carnell, chief AI architect at Dell Technologies, and ask him how federal government agencies are handling and optimizing their data. Carnell shared his insights on this topic, and explored how data optimization is helping agencies make better business and strategic decisions.
Government Technology Insider (GTI): Brian, thanks for talking with us today. Can you explain the importance of data and data analytics to federal agencies?
Brian Carnell (BC): With the explosion of IoT and the amount of information that’s coming in, data and data analytics ensure the agency can use their data to get return on investments, make smart business decisions, and ensure good strategic outcomes for their mission.
GTI: Are agencies currently leveraging the insights that their data holds? How can data be used for more?
BC: Agencies are absolutely using the data that they have today and they’re leveraging it as best they can, with an eye to using more of that data in the future. With the explosion of IoT and of data streaming in from all of the connected devices out there, many agencies are seeking ways to add to that data. A good example of that is federated learning, which enables devices to share information while keeping all of the data on the device. Federated learning decouples machine learning from the data it stores in the cloud. Agencies are able to utilize the data streams that they have available to do federated learning at the edge. With a strategy that allows them to utilize the data, they are able to jump over the technical debt that they have internally.
GTI: What solutions make this possible? How do you see these solutions changing how agencies function?
BC: I’ll go back to the federated learning and artificial intelligence. Many agencies struggle with technical debt due to large, outdated infrastructure. If you think about all the connected devices out there, everything is producing data, and with everything producing data, the problem of moving that data compounds. I’ve seen several agencies create micro data centers closer to the edge, so they can take advantage of federated learning. This model allows them to gather more and better intelligence.
GTI: Can you share any examples of how data is helping agencies?
BC: Right now, agencies are really engaging and upping their data governance game. A large amount of data lies at the edge of the network. Their ability to move it to the core, where they can train federated models or AI models, is beneficial. I see a lot of agencies evaluating what data is valuable, what they need to move, and what they need to store. Agencies have also started hiring chief data officers, chief data scientists; focusing on hiring workers who are data literate. The primary use case for agencies right now is around doing the data science up front, making sure there are no gaps in the data, and that data governance is in place.
GTI: How is 5G changing the way agencies can leverage data?
BC: 5G is changing the way that agencies leverage data by offering a quantum leap forward in efficiency. Many agencies don’t realize they have a problem until they’re trying to run new programs on old systems. For example, you may have a switch that’s been sitting in a closet for 10 years somewhere and it just does its job every day. Until you begin to move large amounts of data, you don’t realize there’s a piece of your infrastructure that needs to be modernized. Agencies are going to utilize 5G as a way to leapfrog, or as a strategy to overcome, that technical debt while their refresh cycles take place.