Big Data is a Big Deal

Below is the press release announcing the Big Data Research and Development Initiative.

Today, the Obama Administration is announcing the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative.”  By improving our ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data, the initiative promises to help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and transform teaching and learning.

To launch the initiative, six Federal departments and agencies will announce more than $200 million in new commitments that, together, promise to greatly improve the tools and techniques needed to access, organize, and glean discoveries from huge volumes of digital data. Learn more about ongoing Federal government programs that address the challenges of, and tap the opportunities afforded by, the big data revolution in our Big Data Fact Sheet.

We also want to challenge industry, research universities, and non-profits to join with the Administration to make the most of the opportunities created by Big Data.  Clearly, the government can’t do this on its own.  We need what the President calls an “all hands on deck” effort.

Some companies are already sponsoring Big Data-related competitions, and providing funding for university research.  Universities are beginning to create new courses—and entire courses of study—to prepare the next generation of “data scientists.”  Organizations like Data Without Borders are helping non-profits by providing pro bono data collection, analysis, and visualization.  OSTP would be very interested in supporting the creation of a forum to highlight new public-private partnerships related to Big Data.

SmartPlanet covered the story and noted:

The fact sheet published with the program outlines an astonishing array of ways in which computing technology for better analyzing massive data sets could impact many walks of life in the United States and pretty much every federal agency that you could imagine including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, the Department of Veteran Affairs, Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Archives & Records Administration, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency and the United States Geological Survey.

Yep, every single one of those agencies is investing in technology aimed at accelerating the pace of automation and innovation.

The fact sheet mentioned above also summarizes big data initiatives at the Department of Energy, which aren’t noted in the SmartPlanet story.

About Laura B.

Laura L. Barnes is ISTC's Sustainability Information Curator and Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLPPR). She also created and authors Environmental News Bits (
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