Energy wants to open its innovation hub to the public

(Department of Energy / Flickr)


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The deputy chief information officer overseeing the Department of Energy’s Innovation Community Center hopes to open the digital hub to external partners in 2020.

Pamela Isom said Tuesday at an AFCEA Bethesda event that DOE wants industry to get involved as the department builds out the currently internal-facing ICC.

When finished, the ICC will consist of three platforms for innovation exchange, collaborative research, and sandboxes for piloting proofs of concepts.

“We want it to be external-facing at some point, but we haven’t worked out the details yet on when that will be,” Isom told FedScoop after the event. “I hope sometime in 2020. I’m going through the internal clearance process, where they will tell me what information I can make publicly available.”

DOE’s biggest ICC user to date has been its Artificial Intelligence Technology Office, Isom added.

The agency wants to make the AI it’s developing more effective with geospatial data, which is where the innovation exchange platform comes in.

“One of the things we are doing to manage the data complexities and just the vast amounts of data we’re dealing with in the environment is getting more communities together to talk about what information we have,” Isom said during a panel discussion.

She likened the exchange to a map of core innovations — complete with data sets — within DOE.

But first, the department needs to establish a data taxonomy. Isom is currently pushing for every DOE agency to appoint a data manager that can represent it on the department’s Data Governance Board.

DOE is also working with cloud service providers to set up sandboxes for testing solutions supporting the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act by blocking shadow IT — systems built without department approval.

Investing in duplicate IT systems is a “data problem” DOE is wrestling with, Isom said. She was in a meeting Monday discussing solutions for improving inventory and asset management. “Because there was so much pain within the organization, I thought I was going to really have to sell it,” Isom said. “I didn’t have to sell it.”

The department is also currently working with field offices to develop a machine learning proof of concept capable of analyzing video data from flyovers and walkthroughs and accurately identifying wellheads and wells with potential vulnerabilities.

“It takes the field offices and field workers a longer time to realize there may be potential issues,” Isom said. “And what they’ve done is come to my organization and ask us if we can help automate this and provide some AI and ML capabilities to help them to better recognize these types of data with more precision.”

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artificial intelligence (AI), Department of Energy (DOE), Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), Innovation Community Center (ICC), machine learning