President Obama’s initiative to expand big data-related jobs as part of $200 million initiative has kicked off a wave of interest in professionals who have experience sorting through piles of information to find trends and nuggets of intelligence for both business and governments.
According to Dr. John P. Holdren, assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:
In the same way that past Federal investments in information-technology R&D led to dramatic advances in supercomputing and the creation of the Internet, the initiative we are launching today promises to transform our ability to use big data for scientific discovery, environmental and biomedical research, education, and national security.
The money is to be spread across six federal departments and agencies, though the plan also calls for private-sector involvement in an “all hands on deck” effort, as the president put it. The information released by the agencies – the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Defense, DARPA, Energy, U.S. Geological Survey – talks about developing new tools and computing capabilities to handle the massive amounts of data they collect.
The private sector, however, already is looking for skilled workers to deal with the data deluge. Perhaps it’s too early to get a clear view of how this effort will enhance the big data workforce, but the White House did provide some specifics:
- The National Science Foundation is to encourage research universities to create interdisciplinary graduate programs to develop the next generation of data scientists and engineers.
- NSF also will (issue) a $2 million award for a research training group to support training for undergraduates to use graphical and visualization techniques for complex data.
- The NSF will also will be convening researchers across disciplines to determine how big data can transform teaching and learning.
- The Department of Defense is seeking a 100-fold increase in the ability of analysts to extract information from texts in any language, and a similar increase in the number of objects, activities, and events that an analyst can observe.
- The DoD will announce a series of open prize competitions over the next several months.