DJ Patil

DJ Patil's drive for data-driven government

Recent initiatives by the White House for a data-driven government like the Precision Medicine Initiative and the Police Data Initiative demonstrate the nation’s progress in open and responsible data use,  according to a recent memo by DJ Patil, U.S. chief data scientist in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In his memo, Patil outlined the work his team has been doing to create federal data policies to make shared services possible,  collaborate with federal agencies to fulfill these goals, recruit top technologists in data science and build long-term sustainability.

Open data sets, for example, are essential to the Police Data Initiative, which aims to accelerate the development of data transparency and analysis tools to build trust between local police and the communities they serve. Police leaders work with technologists, researchers and data scientists, and so far, the PDI has reached 26 major jurisdictions looking towards improving internal accountability with data-driven community policing.

In support of the administration’s Climate Data Initiative, meanwhile, the Department of Commerce  worked with Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and the Open Cloud Consortium to make more than 50 terabytes of environmental data available per day to fuel business innovation.

Other successful initiatives include the 130,000 datasets now hosted on Data.Gov.  Those datasets come from about 80 agencies and 37 state, county and city data catalogs, according to Patil, and are generating more than 8 million page views annually.

The administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), however, got special attention from Patil.  That project aims to create tailored treatments, expand genetically-based clinical cancer trials and establish a national “Cancer Knowledge Network” to help with treatment decisions. Patil cited his teams’ outreach via Twitter chats, National Institutes of Health workshops and listening sessions to gain citizen insight and support. The team also implemented Privacy and Trust Principles to protect patients, uphold security and regulate data quality, use and access.

There remains room to do more, however. In a post on the White House’s blog regarding next steps for PMI, Patil calls to stakeholders for new ways to use health information to further precision medicine efforts.

These efforts might include new approaches for deploying precision medicine into patient care, developing APIs in electronic health record systems that can enable patients to access and donate their data, using new technology to support storage of data, new security solutions and more.

Patil asked stakeholders to share new activities that follow these goals on the White House Precision Medicine website by Sept. 21.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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