Who Will Benefit Most From Increased IT Infrastructure Investment?
With the economy steadily improving, federal, state and local governments are beginning to turn their eyes towards increasing their IT infrastructure investment. In fact, IDC Government Insights predicted an increase of 1.9 percent under the president’s proposed 2016 budget, raising IT spending to $49 billion, the Federal Times reported. If current trends continue, the IDC projected civilian IT spending will reach $57 billion by fiscal year 2019.
Where Is Infrastructure Investment Being Focused?
1. Health Care
The IDC spending guide stated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the largest IT budget at just under $11.4 billion for fiscal year 2016. It is followed by the Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS), which grew by more than 50 percent from 2014 to 2015, hitting $6.8 billion.
According to the HHS FY2016 Budget in Brief, the HHS is using its increased IT infrastructure investment to improve the way information is distributed. The focus is on creating transparency of cost and quality information. It also wants to bring electronic health information directly to the point of care.
The CMS is using its budget increase to improve its provider compare websites. Its efforts are focused on:
- Empowering consumers to make more informed health care decisions;
- Encouraging providers to strive for higher levels of quality; and
- Driving overall health system improvement.
As the use of electronic medical records increases, the need to protect the information they contain is paramount. As such, the HHS has proposed a budget of $73 million to manage and provide oversight to the department’s cybersecurity program in 2016.
Government investment in IT infrastructure for education is also on the rise. The IDC report predicted that U.S. higher education institutions would spend $6.6 billion on IT in 2015 alone. In K-12 schools, IT spending was expected to increase by about $4.7 billion. Most of this spending was expected to go toward general computer upgrades or investments in applications. Tablets and e-readers were also projected to grow across all education levels. And as in health care, cybersecurity is a key investment area.
Many schools are struggling to keep up with the newest technology without having the infrastructure to support it. In fact, more than half of K-12 and higher education respondents to a recent Center for Digital Education (CDE) survey plan to upgrade their network in the next year.
According to the CDE Market Forecast, K-12 market investing is focused heavily on digital content solutions, networking and mobile devices. Meanwhile, the higher education market is investing in network infrastructure and instructional video solutions. Both K-12 school districts and higher education institutions plan to employ managed IT services to help reach their goals.
The increase in nationwide education IT spending is helping schools make the shift to the smart classroom. Federal investment moving K-12 schools toward broadband connectivity is helping build the infrastructure needed for this long-term trend.
3. Law Enforcement
Another area of focus for increased IT infrastructure investment is law enforcement. According to e.Republic, U.S. law enforcement agencies are looking to add new technologies that will help them deter crime and increase safety. Key areas for IT investment include: body cameras, data security and video surveillance and storage.
The use of body cameras and drones pose the additional challenge of managing and storing hours of footage. Cloud storage is a possible solution; however, most cloud platforms have not met the standards that enable police departments to connect to FBI systems and securely access data.
Another major focus of increased IT spending by law enforcement centers on the adoption of Next Generation 911 systems. According to e.Republic, 70 percent of 911 calls are made from cellphones, but many call centers can’t accept text messages, videos or location data — all valuable information that could be collected in the near future.
After a few years of relatively little change in IT infrastructure spending, state, local and federal agency budgets are starting to rise. This additional funding will help health care, education and law enforcement agencies build the IT infrastructure they need to securely store information and support the latest technologies — from mobile devices in the classroom to electronic medical records in health care.