Data: The Innovation Currency of the Digital Ageby Avi Bender, Willie E. May, and Justin Antonipillai
Data, you might say, is the innovation currency of the Digital Age. Data solutions surround us – like when we’re in the backseat of an Uber browsing LinkedIn while the driver uses Waze for the best route while streaming Pandora on the radio. Every day innovators are using public and private data to dream up and deliver new customer solutions. And we’re just at the beginning.
Federal agencies that collect, process and disseminate data have a unique obligation to deliver improved data-based services to the public, catalyze innovative private sector data products and services, and use data in innovative ways to increase efficiency of government operations. After all, the data was collected in the first place to serve a public good.
But frankly, this effort is often hampered by the need for agile development, better interagency collaboration and operating protocols, and broader vs. "one-off" solutions.
Now, Secretary Pritzker has set an ambitious agenda here at the Department of Commerce around data. We are focused on making our data more easily consumable for private, public, non-profit and other stakeholders around the U.S., and we are focused on improving our own operations and programs using data.
What is our goal? To solve a technical problem by finding and connecting relevant and valuable Federal and private-sector data sets? To address privacy and security issues? To bridge the tangle of rules and regs to make it easier for government and companies to collaborate more efficiently and effectively? Yes, yes and yes.
Now, we are bringing another important approach to our broader data strategy.
The National Technical Information Service has just posted a Federal Register Notice inviting proposals from for-profit, non-profit, or research organizations to enter into Joint Venture Partnership agreements with NTIS to develop and deliver innovative, agile data solutions within the Department of Commerce or around the federal government.
We’re looking for companies and organizations—selected through a merit-based process—that will partner with NTIS to assist Federal agencies in developing and implementing innovative ways to collect, connect, access, analyze, or use Federal data and data services.
NTIS is perfect to launch this partnership due to its unique mission to collect and widely disseminate federal scientific, technical, engineering and business-related information and its increasing focus on providing federal customers with online data and services. In mid-2015, Secretary Pritzker set a new focus for NTIS—consistent with its existing authorities—to expand access to the Department’s and the broader Federal government’s data resources, with emphasis on data concerning the Nation’s economy, population, and environment.
The new “joint venture opportunity initiative” perfectly supports the data pillar of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business” Strategic Plan, as well as broader data priorities across the federal government, including Open Data and Open Access. This initiative also dovetails nicely with the work of the Commerce Data Service.
Once chosen as an NTIS Joint Venture partner, entities will be able to partner with customer Federal agencies that are seeking to become more agile and innovative in how they leverage data for greater internal operational efficiencies (to save taxpayer money) and external innovation (to deliver improved public services or insights and catalyze innovative private sector products and services).
To illustrate, the Joint Ventures could help provide:
- New technical capability or private sets to help statistical agencies derive economic, demographic and social insights from Federal and private sector data;
- Assistance through the integration of public and private data, the “Internet of Things,” cloud computing and predictive analytics, to derive insights for land use planning, and delivering improved public services; and
- Aggregation of multiple and disparate data sets from several Federal agencies into an insightful data suite of knowledge to drive business decisions.
The NTIS Joint Ventures also could help address time-to-market innovations and complexity of solutions, and facilitate new partnerships with the private sector focused on delivering value for public service, business outcomes, and economic growth.
We encourage you to respond to the Federal Register Notice and to submit proposals to become an NTIS Joint Venture Partner, by the deadlines described in the Federal Register Notice.
Data science and engineering is technical stuff. But in all simplicity, what we’re really doing here is building a new bridge within and between government, business, the public, communities, and consumers to accelerate the data economy, and strengthen American competitiveness.