6 Agencies Launch Program to Build Prototype Open Knowledge Network

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The prototype network is designed to provide an integrated data and knowledge infrastructure.

Six government agencies launched a program to build an integrated data and knowledge infrastructure, or an open knowledge network, dubbed the Prototype Open Knowledge Network—or Proto-OKN—according to an announcement on Friday. 

The National Science Foundation, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Justice, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey launched the program, which will provide $20 million in funding to help build the network.

According to the announcement, an open knowledge network “is a publicly accessible, interconnected set of data repositories and associated knowledge graphs that will enable data-driven, artificial intelligence-based solutions for a broad set of societal challenges.”

NSF will fund projects to prototype scalable, cloud-based technical infrastructure to help solve problems in healthcare, space, criminal justice, climate change and other areas. The other agencies will work with NSF and awardees to make sure the program supports strategies and addresses challenges associated with agency data. 

“NSF is delighted to advance the vision of an open network that will harness the vast amounts of data generated in every sphere of life,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said. “The open knowledge network will transform the nation’s ability to unlock insights from data and transform these data into useful, actionable information and knowledge crucial to address challenges for a more efficient and equitable future.”

The network will help inform evidence-based policies or develop new artificial intelligence capabilities by providing integrated information for a range of uses.

The Proto-OKN funding will support public data infrastructure and fund research in three categories: use cases—to develop a knowledge graph or node to provide a data-focused solution to a societal challenge; fabric—to develop and deploy technology that serves as “interconnected fabric” to link knowledge graphs; and education and public engagement—for one awardee to create educational materials and tools to help people and organizations engage with the Proto-OKN.

The Proto-OKN funding comes after NSF’s prior investments in initiatives supporting open knowledge network advancements, such as its Convergence Accelerator Track A: Open Knowledge Networks and the NSF and White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy Open Knowledge Innovation Sprint.