WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- SAP NEWSBYTE -- "Big data" has the potential to transform government and society, and the path to harnessing it is relatively straightforward and affordable, according to a new report released today by the TechAmerica Foundation's Big Data Commission. The commission, co-chaired by SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and IBM, is providing the U.S. government with a first-of-a-kind, comprehensive road map to using big data to better serve the American people. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110126/AQ34470LOGO) Developed with extensive input from industry, government and academic leaders, the report defines key terms, explains the underlying technology and identifies best practices and lessons learned from early efforts. The report also offers a set of policy recommendations and practical steps that agencies can take to get started on big data initiatives. It was released at a briefing for members and staff of the U.S. Congressional High-Tech Caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. "The evidence shows that the U.S. government can extract enormous value from big data, for the benefit of all citizens," said Commission Co-Chair Steve Lucas, global executive vice president and general manager, Database & Technology, SAP. "Imagine a world where a growing number of elderly and sick people receive better healthcare outcomes at lower costs, where there is reduced congestion on the roads due to real-time insight into traffic patterns and events or greater accuracy in prediction of severe weather events. The challenge lies in capturing, managing and analyzing enormous data streams to measure new signals that lead to transformational insights." The good news, the report says, is that pioneers in business and government have already made initial investments in big data pilot projects, have demonstrated success and have identified best practices to help others move forward. While the impact of big data will be transformational, the path to harnessing it does not require a radical overhaul of infrastructure or business processes. Governments can build incrementally on the capabilities they already have in place. The incremental nature of big data upgrades means they can be accomplished more rapidly and affordably than was typical of government IT projects in the past — a crucial consideration at a time of intense pressures on the U.S. federal budget.