Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon June 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM EDT
Do you remember a moment when a mentor, teacher, or friend opened up your eyes to something that changed your life? Do you remember a wide-eyed moment when the impossible became possible and it put you on a path of discovery and maybe even helped put you on the career path you are on today?
Heroes across the country help create these incredible moments every day. Many are working hard to connect and spark young minds to get excited about technology through mentoring; many others are dreaming up the technology tools themselves that can spark imagination and wonder. These champions are inspiring students to get excited about becoming the developers, engineers, and innovators who will create solutions to some of our toughest challenges.
This July, the White House will host a “Champions of Change” event on Tech Inclusion. This event will celebrate and honor local change-agents who are making these moments of wonder and discovery happen for kids – specifically those making a difference for kids from communities underrepresented in technology, like girls and minorities.
And today, we’re asking you to help us identify these standout local leaders by nominating a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion by July 1st.
- Posted byon June 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM EDT
Poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children globally each year – and prevents the minds and bodies of another 165 million children from reaching their full potential. In addition, nutrition is a serious economic issue: experts estimate that undernutrition reduces national economic advancement in Africa and Asia by 8% each year. Thankfully, we know a lot about what works to improve nutrition, including the fact that intervention must occur during the first 1,000 days of life or damage is irreversible. We also know that addressing nutrition is one of the most cost-effective investments available: for every $1 invested in nutrition, as much as $138 is generated in better health and productivity.
Last week, following the publishing of a new series on maternal and child nutrition in the medical journal The Lancet , governments, donors, non-profits, academia, and the private sector came together to focus on undernutrition at events in London and Washington, DC. The events provided an opportunity for the United States and other participants to highlight existing and planned actions to address undernutrition. US Agency for International Development Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah highlighted the investments the US Government is making in nutrition as part of the Presidential Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives: over the three-year period of fiscal years 2012-2014, these investments total $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion for activities in other sectors that also improve nutrition.
The US and the UK governments also announced they are seeking partners to launch a Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative this fall to increase the quality, quantity, and timeliness of available data that can help support agriculture and nutrition efforts, and also increase the number and diversity of stakeholders who are applying data-based solutions to improve agriculture and nutrition. This is an initiative that will be tremendously exciting – if you or your organization is interested in learning more, please visit the initiative website.
- Posted byon June 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM EDT
Last week, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act by President Kennedy, President Obama recognized innovators who have used open government data to build tools that address the wage gap.
That gap has grown considerably smaller since the Kennedy era, but it has not disappeared. In 2011, for example, a typical 25 year-old woman working full-time, year-round, will have already earned $5,000 less than a typical 25 year-old man. If that woman were to face the same wage gap for each year going forward, then by age 35 she will have earned $33,600 less than a typical 35 year-old man. By age 65, that earnings gap will have ballooned to $389,300.
- Posted byon June 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM EDT
OSTP today released the National Biosurveillance Science and Technology Roadmap, which identifies and prioritizes research and development (R&D) needs with the goal of giving decision makers and responders the information they need to protect the public from biological threats.
Biological threats such as the H7N9 influenza virus and the novel coronavirus recently identified in the Middle East—as well as those resulting from accidental releases or exposures or intentional, malevolent activities—have the potential to erupt suddenly and evolve quickly. Surveillance is essential for predicting, preventing, and mitigating the impacts of such events.
The Roadmap, drafted by the interagency Biosurveillance Science and Technology Working Group under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Homeland and National Security, builds upon the National Strategy for Biosurveillance, published in July 2012. That document recognized that a well-integrated national biosurveillance enterprise can save lives by providing timely and accurate information for better decision making. The Roadmap identifies R&D priorities and objectives to enable implementation of the Strategy, such as:
- Posted byon June 14, 2013 at 11:04 AM EDT
President Obama today issued a Presidential Memorandum that builds on the Administration’s commitment to make additional spectrum available for wireless broadband to drive innovation, expand consumer services, and increase job creation and economic growth. The memorandum establishes a set of measures that Federal agencies, in collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, will now take to more aggressively enhance spectrum efficiency and enable access to more spectrum for consumer services and applications.
Many of the new measures are common-sense ways to improve spectrum efficiency. Under the memorandum, an agency that requests a new spectrum assignment or that seeks to procure a spectrum-dependent system will have to document its consideration of alternative approaches and verify that it is pursuing the most spectrum-efficient method, in consideration of all relevant factors including cost and agency mission.
Other aspects of the memorandum build on existing strategies, particularly with respect to advancing collaboration with the private sector and other stakeholders. Since 2010 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which manages Federal agency spectrum assignments, has been implementing the President’s directive to identify 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband by convening agency-industry working groups that are engaged in unprecedented discussions aimed at increasing spectrum efficiency and providing access to certain federally assigned spectrum bands for consumer wireless broadband. Today’s memorandum directs NTIA to expand that collaborative process to encompass additional bands. Towards this end, NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will develop policies and best practices to promote and facilitate greater collaboration among agencies, the private sector, and academia with respect to research, development, testing, and evaluation of spectrum-sharing technologies. Helping accelerate the pace of technological change, the White House announced $100 million in upcoming and proposed Federal investments in public-private research and development of spectrum sharing and other advanced communications technologies.
The memorandum also encourages the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in its role as steward of non-Federal spectrum, to continue its efforts to promote efficient, innovative, and flexible use of spectrum, including by imposing network build-out requirements or other conditions to guard against wasteful spectrum warehousing. In addition, the memorandum strongly encourages the FCC to take steps to encourage improved performance of radio receivers, a largely-untapped avenue for increasing spectrum efficiency.
- Posted byon June 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM EDT
Dr. Patricia Falcone, OSTP’s Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, with Brig. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, Deputy Commanding General, US Army Research Development &Engineering Command, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, and Col. Gregory R. McClinton, Commander, US Army Garrison, Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The event also featured remarks by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, ARL Director Dr. Thomas Russell, and other Army officials.
The new ARL Supercomputing Center—containing two new IBM iDataPlex computers with the capacity to perform 50,000 trillion floating point operations per second, or 50 petaflops—will provide state-of-the art high performance computing capabilities as well as extraordinary capacities in advanced high-speed networking and data analysis, providing unprecedented benefits to the Army, the Department of Defense, and the Nation as a whole.
Among its many benefits, the new center will allow Army scientists and engineers to model and evaluate a wide range of soldier- and combat-vehicle-related materials in advance of actual manufacturing, so that expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes dangerous physical testing can be reserved for only the most promising products.
On a historical note, Dr. Falcone noted in her remarks that the new center is just footsteps away from the ARL building that until 1955 was home to the world’s first electronic, programmable, general-purpose computer—the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, known by its creators and a generation of World War II-era computational nerds by its nickname, ENIAC.
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