4th IODC

Blog IODC 2016
Madrid. October 6-7, 2016


The Power of Open Data to Solve Old Problems in New Ways

June 3, 2015 by IODC1

A guest blog post by Lynne McAvoy reflecting on the opening session of IODC15.

Responsibly unleash the power of data for the benefit of the American public and maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data.”

In his talk Data – The Revolution Ahead, DJ Patil, Chief Data Scientist, United States Office of Science and Technology Policy, provided food for thought on how the release of open data, which already belongs to the public, can be leveraged in untold ways. Patil shared that his own research paper, Local Low Dimensionality of Atmospheric Dynamics (Physical Review Letters), benefited from open data provided by the US National Weather Service. Openness of the weather data enabled the research, and as a result he could demonstrate that weather is not as unpredictable we thought. The data allowed him to draw conclusions that would have been impossible had this data not been available to him.

Patil promotes the idea of data-driven organizations acquiring, processing and leveraging data. Data-driven governments mustresponsibly gather processes, leverage and release data. With President Obama came a new, data-driven President. Obama created federal-level dashboards to monitor major technology investments, launched analytics.usa.gov to track usage across all federal websites, established data.gov and, most importantly, issued an executive order stating the “Data is open and machine-readable by default”. Data-driven culture is reinforced as an everyday way of doing the business of government and where the public’s return on investment is guaranteed. We need to fulfill the commitment to open data, by increasing the trust in and consistency of data.

Next steps include initiatives like the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), which seeks to build high-level policy and private and public sector support for open data. Open data can be leveraged by bringing information to those who need it most and using it to solve targeted issues: in precision agriculture (satellite and weather data), precision medicine (USPrecision Medicine Initiative), disaster response, and the US Police Data Initiative. With open data comes great power and the ability to solve old problems in new ways, in innovative and intelligent ways.

Patil said that what is needed is for people to step outside of their silos in order to help with coordination and contextualizing of the data. The more data is opened up, and innovative uses become more common, people will become less reluctant to participate in the process.

“Data science is a team sport. We need to deliver on our commitments to open data… and find ways to open more data”.


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