Big data snags spotlight in congressional hearing

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Experts from academia, private sector and government convened April 24 to testify on a subject that’s all the rage in the federal IT community – big data.

The House Subcommittee on Technology and the House Subcommittee on Research hosted a joint hearing on next-generation computing and big-data analytics to highlight news in big data and address remaining challenges.

Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), chairmen of the respective subcommittees, opened up the big-data hearing, speaking to the importance of related initiatives in improving the efficiency of government services, the critical shortfall of big-data professionals, and the privacy and security concerns associated with big data.

David McQueeney, vice president for technical strategy and worldwide operations at IBM Research, Michael Rappa, director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University, and Farnam Jahanian, assistant director for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation, provided testimony.

“The goal is to fund big-data research at the frontiers of knowledge, to capitalize on the intellectual capacity of both early and experienced investigators in our nation’s academic and research institutions and to foster partnerships across U.S. government agencies, the private sector and international organizations to effectively leverage these investments,” Jahanian said.

Addressing the shortfall of big-data professionals is a critical concern for the House, but IBM has already begun tackling the problem. The company trains current workers on big-data skills, hosts numerous big-data boot camps and trains thousands of IT professionals and students on the latest data management techniques. BigDataUniversity.com is another novel development by IBM that helps students learn Hadoop, stream computing and big-data analytics skills.

Each speaker testified to the critical need for government investment in big-data research and efforts. McQueeney urged Congress to facilitate the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act as well as the federal work-study program to align labor needs in big data.

“IBM strongly supports the reauthorization of the Department of Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004 to be offered by Rep. [Randy] Hultgren,” McQueeney said. This bill would improve Energy Department high-end computing research, and development and strengthen government-industry partnerships on such matters.

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big data, Congress, data analytics, Government IT News, IBM, Tech
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