As the White House’s first chief data scientist, DJ Patil explains the growing importance of his field during his speech at the National Science Foundation.
This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a massive, new data set detailing all the drugs -- and their costs -- prescribed by doctors under Medicare Part D in 2013.
It's all part of continuing efforts by the federal government to release important data for actionable use by citizens, companies and app makers alike.
“I am convinced we are going to learn so much that we're going to be able to translate directly into operational impact,” DJ Patil, the White House chief data scientist, said at Friday’s data science seminar at the National Science Foundation.
As the White House’s first chief data scientist, Patil -- widely credited with coining the term “data scientist” -- has become a high-profile champion of the Obama administration's open data efforts.
The possibilities are seemingly endless for data science, Patil explained during his speech. And a lot of that has to do with ambiguous nature of the role.
“The ambiguity allows us space and opportunity to take all these other fields and craft it into a narrative, and put these things in that narrative that manifests either in decision-making or an ability to turn things into products,” he said.
He gave the example of the Dark Sky app, which can provide users with weather information, hyperlocal forecasts and storm warnings. It's based on about 20 terabytes of observational data, according to Patil.
But the private sector is not the only key player in the data science field. Patil referenced the creation of the federal government's first set of dashboards, which monitor IT progress, and Data.gov, which has hundreds of thousands of data sets.
Local governments have started embracing the data science field as well, Patil said, citing efforts by New York City's first chief analytics officer, Mike Flowers.
"Data and being clever with data . . . can give us a tremendous amount of efficiency in the way we distribute resources,” Patil said.
The buzz around data science has led to a boom in job opportunities and boosted pay for the data adept. By simply changing the career on your LinkedIn profile to "data scientist," you’ll be bombarded with messages from recruiters and may even get a raise, Patil said.
“What a weird world we live in, that you could say 'scientist' and you can't get money, and you can say 'data scientist' and you get money,” he said.
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