VanRoekel: Digital strategy bearing economic fruit

U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said companies are now beginning to be formed from the large amounts of federal data that departments and agencies are releasing as part of the Digital Government Strategy released last May.

He cited companies such as Trulia and Zillow – startups that use government data to help provide a clearer picture of real estate that is for sale or rent – as examples of companies being launched because of the government’s data push.

“We can greatly improve the lives of every American by unlocking pieces of data,” VanRoekel said Tuesday during a keynote address at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cloud Computing and Big Data Workshop in Gaithersburg, Md. “We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg as to what we can accomplish.”

Along with real estate, VanRoekel said the big data movement can greatly help in areas such as healthcare, medicine and energy, to name just a few.


For instance, he said there’s an application that will crawl the Twitter stream and find people discussing their health. That data can be triangulated with positioning data and can give the government – or health providers – a prediction piece of how different illnesses are traveling or how certain diseases are affecting communities.

To help innovation like that, VanRoekel pointed to two initiatives around cloud and big data: FedRAMP and the digital strategy.

VanRoekel said FedRAMP gives federal agencies a streamlined approach to get to the cloud along with a consistency around cybersecurity. He said the first cloud vendor has been approved and “78 of them” coming through the pipeline in the near future.

With the digital strategy, VanRoekel said there are a series of 12-month deliverables that will “start creating a new default inside government” as federal agencies will be required to produce cataloged machine-readable data.

Those two innovations, he said, have the country on the verge of creating a data economy.


“The majority of Fortune 500 companies were founded in tough economic times,” VanRoekel said. “Tough fiscal times tend to lead toward innovation and – in the federal government – we are building the building blocks that will foster the next great American movement.”

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