Industry research has predicted investments in Big Data and data science technologies will expand significantly as organizations pursue stronger alignment between IT and strategic business objectives. These investments include core analytics, cognitive computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, impacting commerce and consumers worldwide.
Building upon this, in 2012 the Obama Administration launched the Big Data Research and Development Initiative to develop Big Data technologies, demonstrate applications of Big Data, and train the next generation of data scientists. The White House identified the following Big Data innovation goals:
- Analyze, extract information from, and make decisions and discoveries based upon large, diverse, and real-time datasets
- Enable new capabilities for Federal agencies and the Nation at large
- Accelerate the process of scientific discovery and innovation
- Lead to new fields of research and new areas of inquiry that would otherwise be impossible
- Educate the next generation of scientists
- Promote economic growth
Key to the realization of these goals is the Federal agency role of Chief Data Officer (CDO). Intel Corporation, Cloudera and the South Big Data Innovation Hub sponsored the 2016 Federal Chief Data Officer Summit with the primary goal of reviewing actionable strategies that support Federal agency efforts to achieve these important innovation focused goals.
Natalie Evans-Harris, Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. CTO and creator of the Federal data science community of practice and the Federal Data Cabinet, detailed how the roughly 40 Federal agency CDO’s are working to promote data literacy through the creation of best practice tools and monthly deep dive workshops. Natalie described the Cabinet’s work as advancing a data driven culture, with the expressed mission of responsibly unleashing the power of data to the benefit of all Americans.
Melvin Greer, Intel Federal Director of Data Science and Analytics, noted the important activity of the Federal Data Cabinet; “These pioneering agency leaders are instrumental in using the collection of government data to provide actionable insight required to meet agency mission requirements.
Dan Morgan, CDO at the Department of Transportation, and Alexandria Phounsavath from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, each shared perspective on the mission imperatives facing Federal CDOs and the challenges they encounter. The panel identified key actions:
- Mission focused data needs: identify inter / intra agency data need against mission objectives
- Build capacity: adopt data science best practices that drive innovation
- Inform and Engage the Public: use data to inform and engage
- Foster Collaboration: Work across Government to accelerate data sharing
The Intel Federal Chief Data Officer Summit attendees highlighted the need to improve the national landscape for Big Data education and training, fulfilling the increased demand for both deep analytical talent and analytical capability across the broader workforce. Participants at the event noted the need to build the human capacity for Big Data research, development and implementation, expanding the current data science landscape via a multi-faceted approach. Education and training strategies would include the core technical facets of data science such as statistics, machine learning, data mining, visualization and ethics. Such strategies would target the training of new data scientists, and also increase the data science competencies and skillsets of current professionals.