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A Big Day for Big Data: The Beginning of Our Data Transformation

OpenData 500Wednesday, June 18, 2014, was a big day for big data.  The Commerce Department participated in the inaugural Open Data Roundtable at the White House, with GovLab at NYU and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The event brought businesses and non-profit organizations that rely on Commerce data together with Commerce Department officials to discuss how to make the data we collect and release easier to find, understand and use.  This initiative has significant potential to fuel new businesses; create jobs; and help federal, state and local governments make better decisions.

Under Secretary Mark Doms presented and participated in the first Open Data Roundtable at the White House, organized by Commerce, GovLab at NYU and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 

Data innovation is revolutionizing every aspect of our society and government data is playing a major role in the revolution. From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) climate data to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent and trademark records, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research, companies, organizations and people are using this information to innovate, grow our economy and better plan for the future.

At this week's Open Data 500, some key insights I came away with include: 

  • There is a strong desire for data consistency across the Commerce Department, and indeed the federal government. 
  • Data should be catalogued in a common, machine-readable format. 
  • Data should be accessible in bulk, allowing the private sector greater flexibility to harness the information. 
  • The use of a single platform for access to government data would create efficiencies and help coordination across agencies.

Furthermore, business leaders stand ready to help us achieve these goals.

Secretary Pritzker is the first Secretary of Commerce to make data a departmental priority in the Commerce Department's Strategic Plan, and has branded Commerce as "America's Data Agency." In keeping with that mantra, over the next several months, my team at the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), which includes the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau, will be involved in similar forums.  We will be engaging our users - businesses, academia, advocacy organizations, and state and local governments - to drive this open data conversation forward. 

Today was a big first step in that process. The insight gained will help inform our efforts ahead. Thanks again to the team at GovLab and the White House for their hard work in making it possible!

Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs


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