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Data DoGooders the U.S. Government wants your help
February 20, 2015

One of the major announcements at this years Strata+Hadoop World conference was DJ Patil, DataKind Advisor, being named as the first U.S. Chief Data Scientist.

Considering President Barack Obama provided the announcement and introduction for DJ's keynote, we can assume the highest levels of U.S. government are embracing data science. And yes, the U.S. government just made an announcement like the cool, hip startups by unveiling the news onstage at a popular tech conference.

The big takeaway from DJ's talk was his final plea: Help Us. The U.S. government needs help from data scientists with a variety of projects in nearly every sector of government. The needs are both full-time and short term (1-3 months). According to DJ, "You don't have to be a U.S. citizen. You don't have to relocate to Washington D.C." So if you are a data scientist looking to get involved with data in the social sector, this is a great opportunity to get involved. Sign up at the USDS website.

While on stage, DJ discussed why open data is important to the government and why this is the most data-driven presidential organization in history. Some highlights:

  • Dashboards to monitor progress of major government IT investments
  • Establishment of Data.gov - over 135,000 open datasets
  • Executive Order for open and machine-readable data
  • Publishing of the U.S. Government Big Data Report

He continued by providing the mission statement for the Chief Data Scientist of the U.S.

Responsibly unleash the power of data for the benefit of the American Public and maximize the nations's return on its investment in data.

Finally, DJ listed his Top Priorities for leading the data effort at the U.S. Government.

  1. Precision Medicine
  2. Data Products
  3. Responsible Data Science

This was a big announcement for the U.S. and for the general data science community. DJ is an excellent ambassador for data science and it is great to see him enter such an influential position, rallying data scienctists to use their skills to give back.

Here at DataKind, we couldn't be more proud and humbled to have such a visionary leader as one of our advisors. We look forward to supporting DJ's efforts to mobilizing more data scientists to use their skills to make a big impact.

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