January 15, 2013, 8:32 PM — Just as the federal government has been working to hasten its shift to cloud computing over the past few years, senior technology officials are now seeking to advance a framework for the government's approach to the challenges and opportunities presented by big data.
Today, at a conference on the cloud and big data hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel described the government-wide effort to make more data available to the public in an ordered format that could provide the basis for new services and applications, startup companies or even entire industries.
"The government is sitting on a treasure trove of that sort [of information]. If you think about the role government plays and could play in cloud and big data, I just think we're at the tip of the iceberg on this stuff."
--U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel
"We are I think at the verge, just at the tipping point of the data economy, both on the big data side ... as well as thinking about government as a platform for value. We're just now starting to see companies founded on government data," VanRoekel says. "We can greatly impact the lives of every American just by unlocking pieces of data."
Real Estate, Healthcare and Energy Business Tie Into Fed Data
VanRoekel cites the real estate sites Trulia and Zillow, which have incorporated government data into their listings, and looks ahead to the untold number of startups that could be launched around government data on health, energy and other areas.
"The government is sitting on a treasure trove of that sort [of information]," he says. "If you think about the role government plays and could play in cloud and big data, I just think we're at the tip of the iceberg on this stuff."
Proponents of unlocking government data point to the success stories of the National Weather Service and the availability of location information from the government's GPS program, both of which have formed the basis for numerous commercial ventures.