The government wants your big data ideas

Competition offers prize purse of $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place.

A trio of agencies on Wednesday launched the first public challenge stemming from a $200 million White House investment in March in big data research and analysis.

The Big Data Challenge will be focused on developing new software and algorithms that mine government datasets for valuable insights, said Suzi Iacono, co-chair of the interagency Big Data Senior Steering Group and a senior science adviser at the National Science Foundation.

Iacono introduced the competition during an event launching the industry group TechAmerica’s report on big data analysis in government. NSF is sponsoring the competition along with NASA and the Energy Department.

Contestants must use at least two government datasets in their entries but can include other public datasets as well, Iacono said.

This is the first of four competitions the government will hold in the “ideation” phase of the big data challenge, Iacono said. The competition offers a comparatively small prize purse of $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place.

The government will likely offer larger prizes later for more targeted big data competitions aimed at solving specific government data problems, she said.