Big Data is a Big Deal

[Editor's Note:  Watch the live webcast today at 2pm ET of the Big Data Research and Development event at http://live.science360.gov/bigdata/]

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.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP

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