Can big data improve national security? Obama Admin commits $200M to find out

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Positing that data analysis on a grand scale can solve the nation’s most critical challenges, the Obama Administration has kicked off a big data initiative with $200 million in commitments from six federal agencies.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is collaborating with the Department of Defense (DoD), National Science Foundation (NSF), Nation Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DoE), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to better organize and understand massive volumes of digital data for the nation’s well-being, the Administration announced Thursday.

“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,” assistant to the President and OSTP director Dr. John P. Holdren said.

Each of the agencies involved are committing resources to developing technologies for big data insight and discovery. DARPA and the DoD, for instance, are specifically focusing on analytics, tools, and algorithms for improving national security and optimizing warfare tactics.

The government is the latest investor in the big-data movement, which has taken off in the technology sector as service providers raise large rounds or get snatched up for tools that dive deep into corporate data pools.

Photo credit: Yampyank/Flickr

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