White House Unveils Big Data Projects, Round Two - InformationWeek

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11/12/2013
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White House Unveils Big Data Projects, Round Two

White House announces dozens of new government-business-nonprofit collaborations to use big data for medical research, economics and more.

Top 10 Government IT Innovators Of 2013
Top 10 Government IT Innovators Of 2013
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The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Networking and Information Technology R&D program (NITRD) on Tuesday introduced a slew of new big-data collaboration projects aimed at stimulating private-sector interest in federal data. The initiatives, announced at the White House-sponsored "Data to Knowledge to Action" event, are targeted at fields as varied as medical research, geointelligence, economics, and linguistics.

The new projects are a continuation of the Obama Administration's Big Data Initiative, announced in March 2012, when the first round of big-data projects was presented.

Thomas Kalil, OSTP's deputy director for technology and innovation, said that "dozens of new partnerships -- more than 90 organizations," are pursuing these new collaborative projects, including many of the best-known American technology, pharmaceutical, and research companies.

Among the initiatives, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and NASA have set up the NASA Earth eXchange, or NEX, a collaborative network to provide space-based data about our planet to researchers in Earth science. AWS will host much of NASA's Earth-observation data as an AWS Public Data Set, making it possible, for instance, to crowdsource research projects.

[ Is the government equipped to handle big data? Read Federal Agencies Advised To Brace For Big Data. ]

An estimated 4.4 million jobs are being created between now and 2015 to support big-data projects. Employers, educational institutions, and government agencies are working to build the educational infrastructure to provide students with the skills they need to fill those jobs.

To help train new workers, IBM, for instance, has created a new assessment toolthat gives university students feedback on their readiness for number-crunching careers in both the public and private sector. Eight universities that have a big data and analytics curriculum -- Fordham, George Washington, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Northwestern, Ohio State, Southern Methodist, and the University of Virginia -- will receive the assessment tool.

OSTP is organizing an initiative to create a "weather service" for pandemics, Kalil said, a way to use big data to identify and predict pandemics as early as possible in order to plan and prepare for -- and hopefully mitigate -- their effects.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), meanwhile, is undertaking its " Big Data to Knowledge" (BD2K) initiative to develop a range of standards, tools, software, and other approaches to make use of massive amounts of data being generated by the health and medical research community.

Several of the initiatives are aimed at specific healthcare challenges. For instance, IBM Research, Geisinger Health Systems, and Sutter Health will use a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to devise ways to use big data to develop tools for doctors to identify patients at risk of heart failure years earlier than can now be spotted. The trio will draw on data covering patient demographics, medical history, allergies, medications, and other characteristics to develop predictive capabilities.

A complete list of the initiatives can be found here.

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Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
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11/16/2013 | 4:51:00 PM
Re: 4.4 Million Jobs?
Here's a chart that shows about 1.2 mln jobs have been created during the Obama administration, about 100k more than during the two Bush terms.  Together, that's about 2.3 mln.  This is based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

So, again, I truly doubt big data will create nearly twice as many jobs by 2015 than the Bush and Obama administrations created in all areas of the economy during the past 13 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobs_created_during_U.S._presidential_terms
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/16/2013 | 11:33:58 AM
Re: 4.4 Million Jobs?
Brian: Technology both creates and destroys. The increase in "efficiency" of which you spoke relates to fewer people doing the work of many. But the technology is designed, manufactured and distributed by people, too, which creates jobs. On a social perspective, it is important to find the right balance. 

For example, if manufacturing jobs in the US are replaced by robotic machines, unemployment rises, wages fall, and the overall economy will suffer. The manufacturer may see reduced costs and higher profit, but demand may suffer because there are fewer people who can afford the finished product. So the company may suffer, too.

With big data, it may create new jobs for data analysts, software makers, and sales pesonnel among others. On the other hand, it may reduce the need for market researchers, demographers and other specialists.  The net effect on local economies in the US, Europe or Asia is difficult to estimate at this point because the field is still so new, but it is extremely hard to believe it will generate 4.4 million jobs by 2015 because that is about how many jobs the US would hope to create in total during that period.
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/16/2013 | 1:39:09 AM
Re: 4.4 Million Jobs?
Brian: Good points.  My guess is that they are speculating that big data will "touch" 4.4 million jobs. For example, healthcare workers, retail workers, financial workers, and many others will be "affected" by big data. But I sincerely doubt that big data will not create 4.4 million new jobs, even globally, over the next year or two.
William Terdoslavich
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William Terdoslavich,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:14:34 PM
Re: 4.4 Million Jobs?
Perhaps a tad over-optimistic?
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 8:11:48 PM
Re: Half the solution...
Why Bill, you sound a bit skeptical! I'm shocked, shocked to hear you suggest that politics could influence the success of a US government technology project.  Afterall, we got Healthcare.gov without any problems, didn't we?
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 8:08:53 PM
4.4 Million Jobs?
My eye brow is arched high over the claim that  big data will create 4.4 million jobs between now and 2015. Source, please?

My trusty old calculator reckons that's about 314,000 jobs a month. Even if you meant between now and the end of 2015, that would be 169,000 jobs.

To put that into context, the US created 193,000 jobs during August and 148,000 jobs during September -- in all economic sectors.  So the claim suggests big data would create as many jobs as the entire US economy. 

Does anyone else find that claim a bit dubious?

 
William Terdoslavich
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William Terdoslavich,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 6:35:59 PM
Half the solution...
Big Data holds the promise of delivering more efficient, effective government services. By developing solid, reliable insights, one can craft effective solutions to vexing problems. 

But there is the potential that the Federal government could "self-hobble" its own solutions. Convuluted, byzantine acquisition rules make it difficult for Uncle Same to develop and deliver "Big IT". Obamacare is just the latest nightmare illustrating this common problem. 

Anything the federal government does will have a political dimension. Do a big project badly and you will generate needless opposition, creating a process problem where none need be while a real problem goes unsolved. 
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
11/13/2013 | 7:17:22 PM
re: White House Unveils Big Data Projects, Round Two
Todd Park's foundation of big government data "DataPalooza's" are now becoming "Data4Uzzuh's"
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