Big Data

White House announces big data partnerships

abstract head representing big data

The White House has unveiled several new partnerships among federal agencies, private companies, academia, state and local governments and nonprofits designed to deploy big data against many of the country's big problems.

The partnerships were announced Nov. 12 at an event called Data to Knowledge to Action, which was accompanied by the release of a fact sheet documenting the progress made since the Obama administration's $200 million Big Data Research and Development program was launched in March 2012.

At the time, big data was making the transition from buzzword to next big thing, but over the past 18 months its potential has increased significantly, according to John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"I said back then that big data was about to become a big deal," said Holdren. "I know the metric 'big deal' is not the most scientific standard, but that prediction was, if anything, conservative. Big data has become a super-big deal, and this is a moving-up ceremony, an acknowledgement of accomplishments over the last year and a half. Even more exciting is the unveiling of new collaborations and partnerships taking big data to new levels."

New big data initiatives and partnerships center on a variety of categories, including cancer research, climate data production and dissemination, real-time personalized medicine and next generation genome sequencing, and involve a variety of federal entities. Scientific agencies figure heavily in these partnerships, with the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Energy all involved in several high-profile projects.

"We live in a world of data," said Farnam Jahanian, assistant director for the National Science Foundation's Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate.

"There are enormous opportunities to harness data, extract knowledge, drive discovery and decision making, and to making accurate predictions and gaining deeper understanding of causal relationships based on advanced data analysis," Jahanian said. "What we are witnessing today is that realizing the enormous potential of data requires a bold, comprehensive national effort with engagement."

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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