Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon April 21, 2013 at 5:28 PM EDT
Following today's launch of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket, John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, issued the following statement:
"Today's successful test flight of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket from the spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, demonstrates an additional private space-launch capability for the United States and lays the groundwork for the first Antares cargo mission to the International Space Station later this year. The growing potential of America's commercial space industry and NASA's use of public-private partnerships are central to President Obama's strategy to ensure U.S. leadership in space exploration while pushing the bounds of scientific discovery and innovation in the 21st century. With NASA focusing on the challenging and exciting task of sending humans deeper into space than ever before, private companies will be crucial in taking the baton for American cargo and crew launches into low-Earth orbit. I congratulate Orbital Sciences and the NASA teams at Wallops, and look forward to more groundbreaking missions in the months and years ahead."
- Posted byon April 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM EDT
Ever wonder where the Weather Channel gets its data? Where the satellite images for Google Earth come from? These data and much more come from a complex array of satellites, ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and other platforms for collecting what the scientific community calls Earth observations. These data are used every day to protect life and property and answer key questions about our planet.
Today, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations—a framework for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s Earth-observation enterprise. Currently, 11 Federal departments and agencies engage in Earth observation activities, collecting volumes of important data about the Earth on an ongoing basis, using an array of sophisticated tools and systems. The new Strategy outlines a process for evaluating and prioritizing Earth-observation investments according to their value to society in critical areas such as agriculture, global change, disasters, water resources, and weather.
Each year, the U.S. Government invests significant resources in Earth-observations systems to collect data about Earth’s land, oceans, ecosystems, and atmosphere. Together, these systems take the pulse of our planet, providing critical Earth-system data that scientists and analysts can then turn into usable information about climate and weather, disaster events, land-use changes, ecosystem health, natural resources, and more. Ultimately, information and services derived from Earth-observation data—including some as ubiquitous as weather forecasts and GPS-navigation—are used by policy makers, resource managers, business leaders, first-responders, and citizens to make important day-to-day decisions.
- Posted byon April 18, 2013 at 4:04 PM EDT
Last year, the Obama Administration announced the National Big Data Research and Development Initiative—a major step toward addressing the challenge and opportunity of “Big Data.” Big Data are data sets so large, complex, or rapidly-generated that they can’t be processed by traditional information and communication technologies. At its launch, the Big Data Initiative featured more than $200 million in new commitments from six Federal departments and agencies aiming to make the most of the explosion of Big Data and the tools needed to analyze it.
Every day, decision makers, resource manager, engineers, first-responders, scientists, and citizens are faced with a multitude of constantly flowing data streams coming from many sources, in many formats. Making sense of these volumes of Big Data requires cutting-edge tools and technologies that can analyze and extract useful knowledge from vast and diverse streams of information. Wrapping our arms around Big Data could lead to an array of important societal benefits—from empowering consumers with the full landscape of information they need to make optimal energy decisions; to enabling civil engineers to monitor and identify at-risk infrastructure; to informing more accurate predictions of natural disasters; and more.
As we enter the second year of the Big Data Initiative, the Obama Administration is encouraging multiple stakeholders, including federal agencies, private industry, academia, state and local government, non-profits, and foundations to develop and participate in Big Data initiatives across the country. Of particular interest are partnerships designed to advance core Big Data technologies; harness the power of Big Data to advance national goals such as economic growth, education, health, and clean energy; use competitions and challenges; and foster regional innovation.
- Posted byon April 17, 2013 at 9:48 AM EDT
Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the winners of its Robocall Challenge, the agency’s first public prize competition, which resulted in a tie between two promising solutions that can help block illegal robocalls.
As many Americans know, advances in technology—amidst their numerous benefits to citizens—have had the undesirable side effect of making it cheap and easy to blast out millions of illegal pre-recorded telemarketing calls, or “robocalls.” The FTC has worked to combat this problem using all of the standard tools at its disposal– including strategic targeting, aggressive law enforcement, and coordination with experts to seek a technological solution. However, phones continue to ring with illegal robocalls. In fact, the FTC receives about 200,000 complaints each month regarding these harassing calls.
That’s why, on October 18, the FTC held a Robocall Summit in which it laid out the robocall problem and the full landscape of partial and potential solutions. At the summit, the FTC announced the Robocall Challenge, with a $50,000 prize for the individual or small group that could come up with the best technical proposal to help consumers block illegal robocalls. Organizations with 10 or more employees competed on a separate track for the large-organization non-monetary award (bragging rights only). The challenge criteria were straightforward: does it work? (50%); is it easy to use? (25%); and can it be implemented? (25%).
By the entry deadline this past January, the FTC received almost 800 diverse and creative submissions. On one end of the spectrum of submissions, consumers sent in practical tips about what they’re doing today to reduce robocalls.
- Posted byon April 16, 2013 at 11:20 AM EDT
Today, the Obama Administration released its final plan for translating the National Ocean Policy into on-the-ground actions to benefit the American people. With significant public input from a wide spectrum of individuals and interests, the final Implementation Plan focuses on improving coordination to speed Federal permitting decisions; better manage the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources that drive so much of our economy; develop and disseminate sound scientific information that local communities, industries, and decision-makers can use; and collaborate more effectively with State, Tribal, and local partners, marine industries, and other stakeholders. Without creating any new regulations or authorities, the plan will ensure the many Federal agencies involved in ocean management work together to reduce duplication and red tape and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.
“Science is the foundation upon which sound management of ocean and coastal resources is based,” said OSTP Director John P. Holdren, who co-chairs the National Ocean Council with Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “The President’s National Ocean Policy and the new implementation plan will help advance relevant science and its application to decision-making to strengthen the economies of our coastal regions while increasing their resilience and sustaining their resources."
- Read the Press Release
- Read the Implementation Plan
- Read what others are saying about the Implementation Plan
- Learn more about the National Ocean Council
- Posted byon April 11, 2013 at 4:51 PM EDT
Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the winners of the Apps for Vehicles Challenge. The competition challenged developers and entrepreneurs to demonstrate how the open data available about most vehicles can be used to improve vehicle safety, fuel efficiency, and comfort. DOE awarded New York-based Dash the Judges’ Prize and Michigan-based MyCarma the Popular Choice prize. Green Button Gamer, based in Massachusetts, won the Safety Innovation award and Fuel Economy Coach from Georgia received the Fuel Efficiency Innovation award.
Many people don’t think about data when they are filling up their gas tanks. But the majority of American cars have onboard data-systems that can help people in new and undiscovered ways. That’s why the Energy Department launched the Apps for Vehicles Challenge during the first-ever Energy Datapalooza last year—to spur innovators to create new technologies that improve safety and fuel efficiency.
These vehicle data systems exist because of a 1996 regulation and subsequent industry standard on emissions from vehicles. Today, when a car is inspected for compliance with those standards, mechanics simply plug in a reader to a digital port that is usually hidden under the steering wheel.
But what’s especially exciting for innovators is that those onboard diagnostics ports actually contain much more information than simply emissions data, including information about brake positions, fuel tank levels, and steering wheel positions—all of which could potentially be used to fuel new consumer applications, products, features, and services.
In just a few short months, the finalists for the Apps for Vehicles Challenge demonstrated what could be done by empowering people with access to data from their own vehicles. For example, they created new tools to measure individualized fuel consumption, expose underlying details beyond the generalized “check engine light,” recommend personalized route optimization options, offer financial advice on the purchase of a new car, or send text messages through an opt-in service when teenage family members drive over the speed limit.
White House Blogs
- The White House Blog
- Middle Class Task Force
- Council of Economic Advisers
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Council on Women and Girls
- Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of Management and Budget
- Office of Public Engagement
- Office of Science & Tech Policy
- Office of Urban Affairs
- Open Government
- Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships
- Social Innovation and Civic Participation
- US Trade Representative
- Office National Drug Control Policy