Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • "Lantern Live" Mobile App Lights Way for Citizens Impacted by Disasters

    In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, seemingly simple tasks such as refueling your car, were incredibly difficult. Few tools existed to determine which gas stations had fuel and the power to pump that fuel.

    To help address this problem, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday announced the launch of Lantern Live – a mobile app that allows users in disaster-affected areas to report on the status of local gas stations, find fuel, and easily look up power outage maps from local utilities. Lantern Live is part of the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative, and represents the ingenuity and ethos found across Initiative projects. An early beta version of Lantern Live was showcased at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day in July, and Lantern Live was included in the President’s briefing in advance of this year’s hurricane season.

    A Lantern Live screenshot.

    Lantern Live is one of the first crowdsourcing tools built by the Federal government. We’re thrilled about giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the process we used to develop the app.

  • President Obama Honors America’s Top Scientists and Engineers, Launches New Steps to Cultivate Tomorrow’s Innovators

    Watch on YouTube

    Today, in the East Room of the White House, President Obama awarded National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation to 19 of our nation’s top thinkers, discoverers, and innovators -- marveling both at the amount of brainpower packed into the room and the magnitude of the laureates' achievements.

    “The results of the work of the people we honor today have transformed our world,” President Obama said.

  • Welcoming New Ideas: Climate Data and Information for Resilient Development

    At the United Nations Climate Summit in September, President Obama announced a set of new initiatives aimed at strengthening global resilience to climate change, including a Public-Private Partnership on Climate Data and Information for Resilient Development. This partnership’s mission, which is being primarily supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) but with significant contributions from NOAA, NASA, USGS and other U.S. government agencies, is to increase resilience to the impacts of climate change and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in developing countries by harnessing, creating, and providing timely climate data, information, tools, and services.  The partnership will draw on the strengths and resources of public, private, and non-governmental organizations, as well as academic communities from around the world.  

    To follow on this Presidential announcement, USAID has just released a Request for Information that solicits input from any interested parties on how best to achieve these goals. If you or your organization is interested in providing input or possibly participating in the public-private partnership itself, please respond to this newly-released Request for Information. Submissions from both U.S.-based and international organizations and experts are encouraged. 

    This new public-private partnership intends to make existing climate data, scientific information, outlooks, tools, and services more actionable and publicly accessible; identify and address targeted climate information and capacity gaps; create a global community of practice that links climate data, climate change adaptation efforts, mitigation, and international development; conduct joint research on how to address specific needs in developing countries, develop new products to support decision-making in climate-vulnerable countries, and advance the aims of the Global Framework for Climate Services.

  • President Obama Honors Extraordinary Young Entrepreneurs at the White House

    Young Entrepreneurs 2014

    President Barack Obama greets the winners of the 2014 National Youth Network Entrepreneurship Challenge, in the Oval Office of the White House, Nov. 18, 2014. The President greets from left: runner up Jesse Horine, 19, from Fort Mill, S.C.; first place winner Lily DeBell, 13, from Baltimore, Md., and Runner up Ambar Romero, 16, from Bridgeport, Conn. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Yesterday at the White House, President Obama marked National Entrepreneurs’ Day by congratulating three student winners of the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in the Oval Office. The Challenge, which is supported by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, focuses on teaching entrepreneurship skills to high school students and has worked with more than 500,000 young people from low-income communities across the United States and around the world. 

    This year, more than 50 semifinalists chosen from a field of over 20,000 traveled to Silicon Valley to meet with top business leaders and compete for a grand prize worth $25,000. In keeping with the President’s challenge to young people to “create and build and invent—to be makers of things, not just consumers of things,” today he recognized the following student Challenge winners:

    • First place winner Lily DeBell, 13, from Baltimore, MD. Lily is the CEO of Lily’s Legwarmers, focused on providing all-natural, hand-made, customizable dancewear for young dancers.
    • Runner up Ambar Romero, 16, from Bridgeport, CT.  Ambar’s business, Styles by Ambar, is an online consignment shop that collects and re-sells quality vintage clothing to benefit community organizations. 
    • Runner up Jesse Horine, 19, from Fort Mill, SC.  Jesse founded SouthernFly, a company that manufactures fishing flies and apparel. 

    These students’ exciting efforts offer a glimpse of the entrepreneurial potential of America’s next generation. And because every startup is an experiment with a chance to help change the world, the Administration is committed to lowering the cost of tinkering, experimenting, and starting up something new to ensure we are continually generateing new innovations that can improve our quality of life.

    That is why in 2011 the President launched Startup America, to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship nationwide, and that is also why, in 2012, he signed the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, making it easier for qualifying small firms to go public, and opening up new avenues for crowdfunding of promising business ideas. And this past June, the President hosted the first ever White House Maker Faire, showcasing a movement that democratizes the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything.

    Please join us in congratulating these young entrepreneurs!

    Dan Correa is a Senior Advisor for Innovation Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

  • Exploring Opportunities for Robotics to Aid in Disease Outbreaks

    Robots are working for us every day, in countless ways.  At home, at work, and on the battlefield, robots are increasingly lifting the burdens of tasks that are dull, dirty, or dangerous.

    But they could do even more, and that’s why President Obama launched the National Robotics Initiative in 2011 to explore and support the development of future robotics applications. Four agencies (the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the United States Department of Agriculture) are involved and issued a joint solicitation for next-generation robotics.

    Earlier this month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy  convened a workshop at the National Science Foundation focused on applications of robotic technology to large-scale disease outbreaks like the current Ebola crisis. Workshop participants discussed the challenges faced by healthcare and aid workers in responding to the current Ebola crisis both domestically and internationally, to brainstorm ways in which robotic technology could yield short-term solutions, and to identify long-term challenges that can be addressed by National Robotics Initiative (NRI) research over the coming years.  Participants ranged across a number of academic, government, industry, and non-government organizations.

  • A Toolkit to Help Communities Respond to a Changing Climate

    It’s been a big week for the United States’ efforts on climate change. On November 12, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced historic actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we’re announcing important steps that the Administration is taking here at home to help communities respond to and prepare for a changing climate.

    Today, the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience – a group of leaders from across the country who are working to boost resilience efforts in their communities – released recommendations on ways in which the federal government can support actions to address the impacts of climate change.

    In response to early input from the Task Force, the Administration has developed the Climate Resilience Toolkit, a website that provides centralized, authoritative, easy-to-use information, tools, and best practices to help communities prepare for and boost their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

    You can access the toolkit here: