Harnessing the Power of Government Data

Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer for the United States of America, shares his strategy and philosophy on the importance of data to improve the health of the nation.

Mar 6th, 2013

Transcript

Transcript

00:01We're very privileged to have Todd Park, who's the CTO for our nation, who's going to talk a little bit...

00:08...about some of his strategies, his thoughts, his philosophy, what he's doing.

00:15So, Todd, would you join us up here?

00:17Join me in welcoming him, please!

00:24Thank you, Todd.

00:26Hello! Hello! How is everybody doing? Fantastic!

00:32Well, thanks so much, to you all, for having me over.

00:35It's terrific to be here.

00:37And thank you for everything that you're doing as individuals and as a federal geospatial community...

00:42...to harness the power of data to help people.

00:46Those of you who know me know that basically there is nothing else in the universe that gets me as excited...

00:52...as data being leveraged to help people.

00:55And I know that I'm in a room of true brothers and sisters in that regard.

01:00But as much as we've all accomplished to date, I think, a lot of us think...

01:04...I think we all think, that our best work is ahead of us.

01:08I actually believe that we're on the cusp of a new golden age when it comes to harnessing the...

01:13...power of data - and government data - to make a positive impact on our nation.

01:18So in that spirit today, I propose a challenge for you as federal geospatial rock stars...

01:26...a three-fold challenge - I think to unlock a whole new wave of awesomeness on behalf of our country.

01:32The first dimension of this challenge is to innovate.

01:36A trend that is truly exciting that I think we've all witnessed and been part of, right, is the growing ubiquity...

01:43...of maps and advanced data visualizations and really every aspect of American life.

01:47You can map your ride, map your exercise, map your home in relation to lots of different factors.

01:55Companies, government agencies are using maps for intense planning, and operational activities.

02:00Rich, powerful, interactive maps are becoming truly ubiquitous tools.

02:05One of the aspects of what's going on that's particularly interesting to me, is actually what news organizations...

02:11...are doing with government data.

02:13The people like Mike _____________ and Nate Silver at the New York Times and many other places...

02:17...are taking incredibly detailed, complicated, hard-to-explain raw data, ranging from demographics...

02:23...in the census to state secretaries' state poll returns, and just about anything and everything else...

02:28...and then making incredibly advanced map and data visualizations which are all the more remarkable...

02:34...in that they're unbelievably intuitive, unbelievably easy to understand, and are being consumed...

02:39...in the browser with no software in between.

02:42So these __________ are making sense of supercomplicated data that we're actually originating and publishing...

02:47...and they're making it incredibly easy to process and absorb.

02:51They're innovating at a whole new level when it comes to applying our data and I think we should be...

02:57...inspired to do the same in our own visualizations and our own work, to take our data and...

03:02...turn it to benefit the American people.

03:04So, taking our game ceaselessly to the next level is one challenge.

03:09The second challenge is, as we do so, to collaborate.

03:13Collaborate across government, collaborate across the government stack - federal, state, and local...

03:18...I understand there's been a ton of progress on that front at this conference...

03:20...which is incredibly exciting - collaborate with the private sector.

03:23It's often hard, but it's increasingly doable, and increasingly happening, in superpractical ways.

03:30Two places where we see the most opportunity for this kind of collaboration...

03:34...being turbocharged is in the use of shared code repositories and the use of APIs.

03:39So, as one example GitHub is quickly becoming an incredible place for government to share.

03:44We use it at the White House on recent projects like a hackathon that we did...

03:48...on the We The People platform just last week.

03:51Projects like RFPEZ and MyUSA have published their code and are collaborating with folks via GitHub.

03:57And we're seeing and championing, seeing and championing more and folks across government, sharing data...

04:03...and easily consumable mode via APIs.

04:07One great example I'm sure everyone here knows is the national broadband map...

04:11...which is built entirely off of open APIs.

04:14By publishing these services, NTIA and FCC have seen an approximation of about...

04:18...4 to 1 in terms of use of the data via the APIs versus the website alone.

04:24They're not only powering their own app via the APIs, eating their own dog food, but they're also allowing...

04:29...others to connect in a technology-nostic way directly to the data and consume it.

04:34So at last report I heard that they received over 76 million API requests in the last 18 months.

04:40The US Census API and more and more other APIs are seeing similar phenomenal use.

04:44This is our future and it's incredibly exciting in terms of actually data being used to produce benefits.

04:49Which brings me to my final challenge which is interconnected really with the first two which is to liberate.

04:53Data liberacion!

04:56We're living at the dawn of a new golden era for open government data.

05:00I think all of us actually know this, all of us actually have been part of it.

05:02Government data is so important to things beyond general government processes.

05:06This is something we've actually known for quite a long time.

05:09So government information resources famously, like weather data being made available, back in the day...

05:14...have spun all kinds of things, like weather newscasts, weather websites...

05:17...weather apps, weather insurance, that have improved our lives in countless ways and grown the economy.

05:24The government actually making access to the GPS infrastructure available for civlian commercial use...

05:30...similarly spawned massive innovation ranging from navigation systems of all kinds...

05:35...to precision crop farming that has radically improved agricultural productivity...

05:39...to location-based apps and much more, and all of this whether GPS, of course, is squarely in the geospatial space.

05:46The latest efforts by a lot of folks in this room, a lot of folks across the government and about...

05:50...which the president's incredibly enthusiastic to liberate data at a whole other level.

05:55Liberate government data in machine-readable forms, easily discoverable, is having a big impact.

06:00We're making a growing array of data information resources in all kinds of fields like...

06:04...health and medicine, energy, education, finance, public safety, global development, much more available.

06:10Easily discoverable, machine readable, and available for free.

06:13The upcoming data policy, open data policy that we'll be issuing will turbocharge this effort and...

06:19...help embed it into the very operating fabric of information system management across government.

06:23We're working to upgrade data.gov in exciting ways, based on a lot of feedback from folks across the ecosystem.

06:29Both upgrades to the plumbing and the architecture of data.gov and also to its user interface.

06:35Integrated with that work - I'm incredibly excited, we'll all incredibly excited - about the work...

06:39...being done on geoplatform.gov 2.0 and how this asset will help all of us take discoverability...

06:47...and usability of geodata to the next level.

06:50We love have how open files formats like JSON and geoJSON are allowing...

06:54...developers everywhere access to the data in ever easier to process and consume ways.

06:59And we love how a growing number of data jams, hackathons, and datapaloozas are being...

07:06...conducted and bringing public and private innovators together to brainstorm about, showcase, and catapult...

07:11...forward innovation, in both the public and private sector, nonprofit sector, and academic sector...

07:17...innovation that leverages our data to produce new products, services, features, insights...

07:23...that help improve all of our lives, create jobs, and unleash general awesomeness.

07:29Because at the end of the day one of the things we actually say all the time - right? - it almost sounds...

07:32...heretical at first blush, is that, data by itself is useless.

07:36It actually almost pains me to say this because I love data so much, right?

07:41But data by itself isn't particularly useful.

07:44I can't pour data on a broken bone and heal it.

07:47I can't feed my baby daughter data.

07:50You'd think I might, because I love data, I love my baby daughter, so it stands to reason...

07:53...I could feed her data, but no it actually doesn't turn out to work that way.

07:56I can't pour data on a street and fix it.

07:59Data is only useful if it gets applied to create actual public benefit.

08:06And what's so exciting to me about this moment is not that data in and of itself is being liberated...

08:11...because at the end of the day it's like, who really cares?

08:13It's actually that data's being made available to innovators across America and being used!

08:18By innovators in the public, private, nonprofit, academic sectors to create ever-escalating awesomeness.

08:24Ever-escalating benefit to people on an increasingly exciting scale to help folks prepare and respond to natural...

08:30...disasters; to help families find the best health care, save on their energy bills, and keep their children safe.

08:36To help students learn, to help teachers teach.

08:38To help optimize the delivery and efficiency of service delivery of all kinds.

08:42To help further better global development outcomes and much, much, much more.

08:46A frontier of value creation for society that is actually limited only by the imaginations...

08:52...of America's most talented innovators, which is to say is not limited in any way at all.

09:00And if we as a community challenge ourselves to apply our own data in ever more creative and powerful ways...

09:06...if we collaborate more and more with each other to do that in every possible direction of collaboration...

09:12...to do things that anyone alone can't do, and if we liberate our data - embrace data liberacion...

09:19...and spread the word about it to all the other amazing people in the world, that we could work with...

09:23...that could work with our data, to create awesomeness for our country, then I believe this time...

09:28...will truly be regarded as the beginning of the new golden age, when it comes to this country...

09:34...harnessing the power of our country's data to improve millions of peoples' lives, help grow the economy...

09:39...and build a better future for our children.

09:41So thank you so much to everyone in this room for everything you've already done, to further this mission.

09:47Thank you even more for what you are about to do.

09:52May the force be with you and with all of us as you do it.

09:56God bless you, and may the force be with the United States of America.

09:59Thanks for having me over, and congratulations again for everything you've done.

10:06Thanks, Todd.

10:10I promised Todd that he would have 15 questions from you, but then he said...

10:15..."I've got to be back at the White House, but uh..."

10:18There's a couple things happening right now.

10:19Yeah, I know. Like their jobs. Anyway, yeah, thank you very much.

10:25I mean, your vision of openness and liberation, how do you say it?

10:30Liberacion!

10:31Liberacion! I'll try to get into that. Liberacion!!

10:35It's really good. I'll try to copy it.

10:37Todd, thank you so much.

10:38Thank you so much! I really appreciate it.

10:39Ladies and gentlemen...

10:40Thanks for having me over!

10:41Thank you.

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