New commission aims to help government tap into big data

Several industry thought leaders will head a Big Data Commission of 22 experts and academics who will provide guidance to government and business on how the large troves of data being collected today can drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness, according to the TechAmerica Foundation.

Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive at IBM, and Steve Lucas, global executive vice president and general manager for database and technology at SAP, will chair the commission. Serving as vice chairs are Teresa Carlson, vice president of Global Public Sector for Amazon Web Services, and Bill Perlowitz, chief technology officer of Wyle’s Science, Technology and Engineering Group.

“The problem today is not gathering data but rather making intelligent, actionable decisions based on the volume, velocity and variety of data we are receiving,” said Jennifer Kerber, president of the TechAmerica Foundation.

Related coverage:

White House launches $200M 'Big Data R&D' initiative

Commission presents road map, buyer's guide for moving to cloud

“I am excited about launching this commission and hope that we can leverage the best and brightest industry, academic and government minds to determine how to use big data to drive innovation, efficiencies and effectiveness in the public sector,” Kerber said.

Big data is a hot topic for the technology community and is becoming a focal point for government, with the Obama administration recently announcing a $200 million Big Data Research and Development Initiative.

"We are entering a new era of computing where information is growing at a record pace," Mills said. "The winners and losers will be [determined by] those who can innovate faster based on strategic insights drawn from the variety and velocity of new forms of big data being generated every day."

"By gaining deeper insights into this vast new natural resource, the opportunities to accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering and develop information-intensive curriculum is unlimited,” Mills said.

“The world’s data is doubling every 18 months, presenting government and industry with new opportunities to transform information into insight,” Lucas said. “New database technologies and applications, coupled with real-time analysis of big data, will help business and government run better and ultimately improve the well-being of customers and citizens,” Lucas noted.

Industry leaders hope that by bringing private-sector innovation to the public sector, the commission will help leaders address some of the biggest questions facing government today, Lucas said.

The commission expects to take up such issues as: What capabilities are required to succeed? How do you use big data to make intelligent decisions? How will agencies effectively govern and secure huge volumes of information while protecting privacy and civil liberties? And, perhaps most important, how do we use big data to transform how the government delivers services?

“The federal government is under increasing pressure to innovate and do more with less,” Carlson said. At the same time, it has been among the most forward-leaning entities in taking advantage of the benefits of the cloud and big data, Carlson added.

“Big data has the potential to increase efficiency, improve the speed and accuracy of decisions, forecast the future, identify savings, increase transparency, create jobs and provide insight into our agencies and citizenry,” Perlowitz said.

“This is a hugely disruptive force occurring during challenging economic times,” he said, adding that the technical, cultural, organizational and policy challenges data poses must be examined.

The commission membership is made up of leading experts on big data and represent both industry and academia. The full list of members can be found here.

The TechAmerica Foundation also convened commission to provide recommendations to the Obama administration, as well as state and local government, on the deployment of cloud technologies.

The Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud provided 14 recommendations and a Cloud First Buyer’s Guide for Government to the Obama administration at press conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2011.

To highlight the release of its report and recommendations on cloud computing adoption by state and local governments, the TechAmerica Foundation in February convened a Silicon Valley conference for state and local government officials and technology executives. The event featured a review of the report’s major findings and recommendations and the unveiling of an online state and local government Cloud Portal Collaborative Community.




About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected