White House pushes new big data initiative

Posted by Justin Hesser on November 13, 2013

Once again, the highest levels of government are taking a strong interest in big data.

On Tuesday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Networking and Information Technology R&D program (NITRD) unveiled a series of new programs designed to connect federal data with private companies who are interested. The targeted fields vary widely, and comprise everything from medical research to linguistics. 

Some of the medical research being supported is particularly compelling. The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $2 million grant to IBM Research, Geisinger Health Systems and Sutter Health to help combat the risk of heart failure. By analyzing the provided data (which include patient demographics, medical histories and medications), the companies hope to build tools that can help doctors better predict which patients are in the most danger, and intervene earlier, an innovation which could save money and lives. 

Not only will this push create jobs, it can also help to develop new skills. An estimated 4.4 million jobs will be created in the next two years via these projects, and the government is working with educational institutions to help a generation of students deal with issues related to big data and managed it software. IBM has created a new tool to assess the efficacy of such programs and give students feedback on how prepared they are for careers in data management. Currently, eight universities will receive the tool: Fordham, George Washington, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Northwestern, Ohio State, Southern Methodist and the University of Virginia.

The government's wealth of data combined with the ingenuity of the private sector? Sounds like a winning combination.