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The Power Of Open

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The Power Of Open

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It often goes unnoticed that the majority of innovations today stems from investments by government bodies to produce platforms, software and data for the greater societal good. The Internet, the Global Positioning System, voice-controlled software are all examples of these investments. The private industry has no business case for undertaking these efforts; as the business model and return on investment is often unknown. These well-known examples started as military projects in search of ethical commercial use cases. Private industry is often the biggest benefactors of the production of these systems. In this talk, I will speak about the cycle of open innovation, highlight a few examples, discuss what went and is wrong, and highlight course corrections. Specifically, the focus will be initiatives that were intentionally meant to be open , like weather data from NOAA, survey data from the Census Bureau, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and public health data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.

It often goes unnoticed that the majority of innovations today stems from investments by government bodies to produce platforms, software and data for the greater societal good. The Internet, the Global Positioning System, voice-controlled software are all examples of these investments. The private industry has no business case for undertaking these efforts; as the business model and return on investment is often unknown. These well-known examples started as military projects in search of ethical commercial use cases. Private industry is often the biggest benefactors of the production of these systems. In this talk, I will speak about the cycle of open innovation, highlight a few examples, discuss what went and is wrong, and highlight course corrections. Specifically, the focus will be initiatives that were intentionally meant to be open , like weather data from NOAA, survey data from the Census Bureau, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and public health data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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The Power Of Open

  1. 1. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle THE POWER OF OPEN Tyrone Grandison PhD @tyrgr
  2. 2. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The Commons
  3. 3. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The Tragedy Of The Commons
  4. 4. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle Past is Prologue
  5. 5. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  6. 6. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  7. 7. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  8. 8. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle Current Cycle of Innovation Pooled Resources
  9. 9. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The Weather Industry Demographics Economic Activity Public Health
  10. 10. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  11. 11. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle • Collects around 20-30 terabytes of data per day. • Expected to grow x10 in 2 years.
  12. 12. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle 2. BuildBuilt on ~10% NOAA data. Valued at over $2.1 billion in 2016. 2. BuildGlobal Weather Industry
  13. 13. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle Current Situation •Aging equipment •Slow progress on predictions •Higher barriers to entry •Questions on sustainability
  14. 14. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  15. 15. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The trusted source of demographics of the average American Collects over 400 attributes on a representative sample of over 320 million Americans
  16. 16. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle • Monitoring Compliance with Federal law. • Assessing Economic Well Being. • Assisting families and low- income populations. • Assisting the elderly, the disabled, and veterans. • Allocating Education Funding. • Assessing Housing Conditions and Needs on Farms. • Drawing legislative boundaries. • Determining the Need for New Schools. • Infrastructure, Public Health and Environmental Protection, and Program Planning. • Disaster Relief. • Product Development and Marketing. • Forecasting Demand. • Location Decisions. • Providing Equal Opportunities and achieving compliance with Federal law. • Delivering health, social, and educational services. • Serving as an important base for other surveys. • Calculating rates for various indicators. • Creating national estimates.
  17. 17. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  18. 18. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle Measures the health of the US economy.
  19. 19. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle
  20. 20. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle • Global Burden of Disease • Provides comprehensive picture of what disables and kills people across countries, time, age, and sex
  21. 21. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle Cycle of Innovation Pooled Resources
  22. 22. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The New Commons The Digital Commons
  23. 23. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle Call to Action
  24. 24. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The New Commons1. Utilize
  25. 25. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle 2. Build2. Build
  26. 26. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle The New Commons3. Re-Invest
  27. 27. AlterConf 2017 - Seattle THANK YOU @tyrgr

Editor's Notes

  • For the time that I have with you, I am going to share the story of “The Commons”. It should make you happy. It should make you sad. Hopefully, it should spur you to action.

    Afterwards, I hope we can have a discussion on the path forward.

    By show of hands, how many people here have heard of the term “The Commons”.

    Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page, the Commons is a term popular in the Environmental Science and Sustainability field.

    It refers to the shared limited resources that all of us have access to, e.g. water, trees, land, air.
  • Let’s get the sad news out of the way first.

    The Tragedy of The Commons is that when you have multiple individuals, acting independently and only in their own self interest, using shared and limited resources, those resources get depleted.

    Even if it is clearly not in anyone’s long-term interest.
  • We see it happening with physical resources in multiple instances.

    We cut down trees indiscriminately, to produce paper products, that we mass-manufacture, use them and then get rid of them, normally in ways that further harm us in the long term.
  • For a moment, I want you to step back and realize two things.

    First is that we have been repeating the story of the Commons for many, many centuries now.

    Second is that we, As Americans, have been pooling our resources, i.e. our tax dollars, trusting our government to be good stewards of those resources, and help in the creation of man-made commons, which I will be referring to as the Digital Commons.
  • The most well-known example of this is the ARPANET.

    In the 50s and 60s, the US government started to research systems that could survive nuclear war.

    This was the genesis of “packet switching”.
  • And thus, the idea of the Internet was born.

    So for an initial investment of 124.5 million dollars, we have this environment and way of being that is integral to us.

    Lots of billionaires have been made. Lots of cat videos watched. Lots of social good promoted. Lots of damage and harm done.

    Very limited re-investment in the Digital Commons for the good of the masses by the companies that have profited the most.

    Lots of investment for shareholder value (a term that only became gospel, and popular, since the 80s).

  • The observed cycle of innovation from the initial waves of the Digital Commons is right here.

    Our collective resources are pooled, military or defense problems are defined, these ideas are funded with our resources, discoveries are made, there is a realization that there may be worth in trying non-military applications, and those are developed and delivered to all of us.

    The one thing I want you to observe here is that after delivery, there is no re-investment.
  • So, let’s look at four more recent examples of Digital Commons.
  • First up is NOAA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    NOAA monitors everything from surface temperatures on the sun to sounds at the bottom of our oceans.
  • NOAA collects 20 to 30 terabytes of data per day.

    And with GOES-R satellite recently launched and other instruments in progress, it is expected that this will grow to upwards of 400TB per day (and that is raw, unprocessed data).

    All open. All available. However, not easy to understand and unpack.
  • Every single weather app, weather man, and weather company relies on NOAA data.

    Every single one.

    And they all do what they do, using only about 2TB per day from NOAA.

    For a multi-billion dollar industry, this appears to be a great use of our pooled resources.
  • Unfortunately, the number of innovative companies formed and the importance of the NOAA Digital Commons has very little bearing on the preservation of this Commons.

    NOAA has constantly under-funded over the last two decades. Congressional Budget process.

    This translates to 1) old, unreliable equipment in the field, 2) slow predictions, 3) inability to deliver data in easy-to-understand, easy-to-parse formats (thus making the barrier for entry high), and 4) questions about the sustainability of NOAA’s operations (no resources to maintain steady state much less grow).
  • Our second example is the US Census Bureau.
  • The 1st Census (in 1789-90) was taken to enforce the Three-Fifths Compromise - The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise reached between delegates from southern states and those from northern states during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention. It counted slaves are three-fifths of a white man.

    Fortunately, the Census Bureau (officially formed in 1902) has evolved to create multiple surveys about all aspects of American life.

    Currently, you can access over 400 dimensions on the life of an American.
  • These are some of the uses of Census data.

    If you ask Alexa, Siri, Google, or Wolfram Alpha for population or demographics information, you are accessing data from the US Census Bureau.

    As with NOAA, the US Census Bureau is subject to the same Congressional budget cycle.

    This leads to the same underfunding situation, which leads to several important surveys being eliminated and products going stale. More importantly, entire communities go missing.

    Unfortunately, the millions of entities that leverage Census data do not see the need in re-investing in their lifeblood.

  • The third example is the bureau that count economic activity.
  • Its primary product is the Gross Domestic Product.

    It also produces Regional Input/Output multipliers.

    It incorporates Census data and is the bedrock for financial planning.

    And has the exact same problems as the Census Bureau.
  • The final example is the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, lovingly called IHME.

    It is a global public institute funded by the State and a lot of Foundations.
  • What do they do?

    They produce data that quantifies health loss and informs policy on how people can live longer and healthier lives.

    Their data is used everywhere to help everything from Pollution Control in China to Healthcare Spending in the US to Nutritional Program Guidance in the Middle East.

    Given all the uses of the data, one would assume that the businesses that have been successfully because of this data would contribute to its survival.
  • This is what the Cycle of Innovation should be.

    We have to consciously think about the Digital Commons that we are using and factor into our initiatives contributing to them – so that 1) we can have better stuff, 2) the next generation have the opportunity to use those Commons (just like we had).
  • In my time with you, I started of with Open technology, ARPANET, led you through Open Data initiatives (from NOAA, the Census Bureau, BEA and IHME) and want to leave you with the fact that the landscape of Open is larger than you think.

    All these technologies are a part of the Digital Commons, i.e. were funded with our collective contribution.
  • The last thing I want to do is to make a simple request.
  • Look at the existing Open Data and Open technology resources, such as data.gov, DARPA’s Open Catalog and the Commerce Department’s Data Usability Project.

    And leverage them if it makes sense.

    https://data.gov
    https://opencatalog.darpa.mil/index.html
    https://opencatalog.darpa.mil/XDATA.html
  • Build successful partnerships and businesses using open stuff.
  • And Re-invest in the Digital Commons.

    Make it a natural part of your business.
  • Thank you.

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