Marketers are big consumers, and lovers, of IT and data, crunching numbers to find new trends, new markets, and new ways to serve their customers. Government program designers should be no different. One recent case in point is the state of Indiana and infant mortality.
Indiana has a higher infant mortality rate than the US average (see chart). Since we’re social creatures, it’s certainly in everyone’s interest to ensure the health of the society. There’s a moral interest and a communal self-interest in lowering infant mortality.
It’s also certainly in the interest of Indiana to address this higher-that-average rate. Higher infant mortality can be an indicator of poverty, poor education, and poor public health. That in turn can mean a state less attractive to companies and individuals looking to relocate.
Indiana has recently announced a new initiative that will unite data sources across state government, to “combine and cross-check vast volumes of information to glean insights that were previously too complex to obtain” and “understand and address the multifaceted causes of infant mortality as they are specifically playing out for Indiana residents and communities.”
There could be surprising relationships uncovered when data from across state government is presented and analyzed in a coherent way. For instance, harsh winter weather and poorly maintained state highways may play a role in access to rural health care, impacting infant mortality. Normally, public health administrators might not think about requesting snowplows, or different snow plowing routes or schedules, as a way to improve infant health and mortality.
While this is just a hypothetical example, it’s the type of insight the marketers love being able to find and apply, and market research from government can lead the way.