Big data gets a funding boost from the feds

The Obama Administration is placing its support behind big data as the next phase of several technology initiatives. Six federal agencies have teamed up to launch the $200 million initiative designed to improve the discovery of new information from the glut of data generated by government at all levels in the US.

The initiative will focus on public-private partnerships that foster research and development into how government can better leverage big data to solve problems. The effort will be led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Other agencies involved include – National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, DARPA, and U.S. Geological Survey.

According to OSTP, the goals for the project will be – advance state-of-the-art core technologies needed to collect, store, preserve, manage, analyze, and share huge quantities of data; harness these technologies to accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and transform teaching and learning; and expand the workforce needed to develop and use Big Data technologies.

Solicitations are already going forward on the initiative, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Health are awarding $25 million in funding for 15 to 20 research projects on big data. In a release,the National Institutes of Health announced that they will be putting human genome data into the cloud as part of this initiative to facilitate research.

“The explosion of biomedical data has already significantly advanced our understanding of health and disease. Now we want to find new and better ways to make the most of these data to speed discovery, innovation and improvements in the nation’s health and economy,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Collins is among agency leaders speaking in support of the initiative at the launch event.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also creating the XDATA program, a $100 million project to develop techniques for data sifting.

At a news conference announcing the initiative, OSTP said that while the private sector will lead the move into big data, the government wants to support research projects into the area like those announced yesterday and more over over the next few years.

The initiative is the latest in an $80 billion IT spend planned by the Obama Administration to support modernization and improvement of government services and increase overall IT competitiveness. Beyond research, the government is spending on cloud infrastructure and working with a variety of groups to craft high level standards. States are also watching the federal and private sector initiatives to inform their own technology decisions.

“States have really gone as far as they can go with temporary measures like furlough days, layoffs. It is becoming critical for officials to look at larger issues like IT, infrastructure, health care and how to make changes in outdated systems and business processes that can’t effectively meet demand,” said Joe Doherty, EVP & COO, ACS in an interview with CivSource.