Last week I attended the White House Safety Datapalooza which was designed as megaphone session for anyone who might be interested in using government safety data in ways that would support the public good. This second annual event put on by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy marks a huge shift in our government’s culture because it is now “in” to make this data open. Seth Harris, Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor said it best: “It’s the public’s data and we want to give it back to the public.”
The event brought together entrepreneurs, academics and people from inside government agencies who were there to learn from each other, stay current, be inspired and offer ideas for making the data actionable. I was there representing Girls in Technology (GIT) since the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was interested in reaching organizations supporting STEM. As an entrepreneur, I was also fascinated by the presentations from young software companies that had integrated safety data into their products.
Below is a list of the government agencies who spoke to us. Many of them have created incentives either in the form of “app challenges” or grants to companies who wish to get involved. All the opportunities mentioned are listed within Challenge.gov but it’s hard to weed through it all so I tried to provide additional relevant links where possible.
|Type of Data/Challenge
|Companies Using Data
|U.S. Department of State
|Travel warnings and alerts
|Consumer Product Safety Commission
|U.S. Department of Labor
|Worker safety data
|Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
|Disaster and response data
|U.S. Department of Energy
|Energy Consumption Information
|U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
|Innovating for life-sustaining solutions during a disaster using Medicare database to identify the vulnerable. Looking for device manufacturers to step up.
|Department of Justice
|Improving criminal justice and public safety operations
|Department of Transportation
|Transportation safety data
The day was inspiring but brought the realization that these agencies don’t have budgets to hire companies to make cool products with their data. They are reliant upon entrepreneurs who see opportunity. My afternoon breakout session was with the folks from the Consumer Product Safety Commission who have the unique challenge of providing product safety information that manufacturers nor retailers want people to have for fear it would effect their bottom line. Our group talked about ways to integrate this product safety information into the purchase process – which is controlled by retailers and manufacturers. #HARD.
This reinforces the messages we deliver though GIT programs that STEM career opportunities will be plentiful. We look forward to finding ways to bring these opportunities to our girls.