June 19, 2014 – John Podesta (L’76), counselor to President Obama, spoke today at a big data workshop at Georgetown sponsored by the White House and the university’s McCourt School.
The workshop, called “Improving Government Performance in the Era of Big Data: Opportunities and Challenges for Federal Agencies,” focused on the opportunities and challenges ahead for federal agencies in light of the increasing availability of massive data sets.
The McCourt School houses the Massive Data Institute, which seeks to use such sets to increase understanding of society and human behavior to improve public policy decisions.
"The promise and potential of big data is more immediate than ever before," Podesta said, "but we know that as big data technology becomes more prevalent it becomes even more important that we develop the right methods ... to protect privacy fairness and non-discrimination and other valu."
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) co-sponsored the event, which is part of ongoing efforts by the Obama administration to engage subject matter experts and the public in a national discussion about the future of data innovation and policy.
“We've established that big data holds incredible opportunity for improving performance, whether it's for our economy or the delivery of services in our government agencies,” said McCourt School Dean Edward Montgomery. “The challenge is finding how to take advantage of this data in an ethical manner. The McCourt School and the Massive Data Institute are proud to partner with the Office of Science and Technology Policy on this important workshop to share best practices and insights.”
The event also drew from the recent White House working group report – “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values” – and explores best practices for sharing data and protecting privacy and civil liberties in a big data environment.
The Georgetown event was built on other workshops held by OSTP in collaboration with MIT, NYU and University of California, Berkeley.
Panel moderators included Nick Sinai and Nicole Wong, both deputy U.S. chief technology officers, and Georgetown Provost Robert M. Groves.