Health Datapalooza

U.S. Chief Information Officer Todd Park talks about Health Datapalooza: A Model Of Innovation. The U.S. Census Bureau says Imagination at Work! Unleash Your Creativity With Our Census API.

Both deal with data. But which should it be: Innovation or creativity or both?

It’s question that deserves more than casual considering, and one I’m currently giving thought to for the upcoming Breaking Gov 38 Degrees Unleashing the Power of Government Data, Sept. 19, in Washington, DC.

It’s worth comparing the definitions. Wikipedia says: Keep reading →

Government officials and information specialists from more than 50 countries wrapped up a week long conference in Washington this week to try to answer a simple question: How to unlock the value of government data to improve the lives citizens in developed as well as less developed nations.

The answer, it turns out, is a lot more complex. Keep reading →

Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Minister Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh from the India Ministry of Science, Technology and Earth Sciences, led the second U.S.-India Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation on Monday in Washington, D.C.

“I am happy to report that the bilateral relations have increased measurably in the areas of maritime, agriculture and bio diversity, basic and applied sciences, advance telecommunications, energy and commercialisation of new technologies,” Holdren (pictured above at the World Science Festival last month) said at the State Department’s George Marshall Center.

Deshmukh added: “We look forward to the recommendations of the group on basic and applied sciences, health and medical sciences; and atmospheric sciences.”

The principal accomplishments announced were:

  • Establishment of the Monsoon Desk at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Presentation by the Endowment Board of certificates to three grant winners from the first round, Sorin Grama and Sam White, Co-founders of Promethean Power Systems (US) and Rustom Irani, Manageing Director, Icelings (India)
  • Announcement by Chris Vein, White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer, of the Third Country Open Government Platform Partnerships (OGPL), and brief demonstration by Marion Royal (US GSA) and Samir Mitra (India PM Advisor’s Office)
The Open Government Platform (OGPL) is a bilateral effort to promote transparency and greater citizen engagement by making government data, documents, tools and processes publicly available.

The idea is that making this information available on an open-source platform in machine-readable format will allow developers, analysts, the media, and academics an opportunity to develop new applications and insights, which will ultimately give citizens more information to facilitate better decisions.

I have expressed reservations about this in a previous story ( Goes To India – But It Still Needs More Work) because in essence: technology and data people speak a different language, to me it is not about what one does to the data (technology), but what one does with the data (science, statistics, and visualizations).

Here is the situation: was not built on open source software, but needed to be if anyone else was going to use it – especially poor third world countries that cannot afford their own developers or commercial software. But needed a first rate team of developers that could convert old, complex software code into simplier, new simplier to use open source code. Enter the Government of India’s National Informatics Centre that produced an open source version of that was made available on the third anniversary of (May 2012). The open source product, called the Open Government Platform (OGPL), can be downloaded and evaluated by any national Government or state or local entity as a path toward making their data open and transparent. Today Samir Mitra (India PM Advisor’s Office) announced that Riwanda will be the first third world country to use the OGPL.

Now this OGPL is based on Drupal, an open source platform, already used by (see my – What’s Not to Like), and many others, including the new launched by US Federal CTO Todd Park at his Health Datapalooza last week.

So where does this all leave us? We have Todd Park, the federal CTO, already using Drupal for his new and announcing a series of developer challenges over the next year to build it out. We have Chris Vein, the Deputy Federal CTO, announcing that India has developed an open source version of based on Drupal that will upgrade to and Riwanda will use. So now we are converging on a platform that does the first of three things that we need: Data Catalog, Actual Data, and Data Results.

To illustrate my point, I took the challenge that Todd Park gave me at last week’s Health Datapalooza and made the new do all three things in one portal where one sees the Data Catalog, the Actual Data, and the Data Results. This implements the 7 challenges that Todd Park announced to further develop over the next year and my recommendations at the recent Developer Community meeting. It is also an example of Building a Digital Government by Example.

So, I say enough with putting old wine ( in new bottles (Open Source Drupal), and on to the real needs of citizens everywhere, namely to go from Data Catalog, to Actual Data, to Data Results, so they can use it to make informed decisions.

One of the many things newly-appointed Federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park is credited with while serving in that role at the Department of Health and Human Services is the Health Data Initiative (HDI) and the webs site.

Originally launched in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the HHS as the Community Health Data Initiative (HDI Forum I), it is now part of the Health Data Consortium (HDC), a new public-private collaboration that encourages innovators to utilize health data to develop applications to raise awareness of health and health system performance and spark community action to improve health (HDI Forum II last June).

The goal of what is now being called the Health Datapalooza (HDI Forum III), to be held on June 5-6, 2012, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC., is to showcase the best and brightest new applications using health data from government and other sources.

I have followed Todd Park’s–and his predecessor, Aneesh Chopra’s–innovation efforts with health data culminating in the Health Data Initiative Forum II last June and the Strata 2011 New York Conference last September. I like their four policy levers that reflect their open innovation philosophy: Opening up data for innovators and entrepreneurs; taking on the role of impatient convener; initiating prizes, challenges, and competitions; and attracting top talent at the intersection of technology and policy.” Keep reading →