‘Big Data’ has Big Potential to Improve Americans’ Lives, Increase Economic Opportunities

Apr 24, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Subcommittees on Research and Technology today held a hearing to examine how advancements in information technology and data analytics enable private and public sector organizations to spur new product and service innovations.

Research Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “Big Data offers a range of opportunities for private industry to reduce costs and increase profitability.  It can enable scientists to make discoveries on a previously unreachable scale.  And it can allow governments to identify ways to serve its citizens more efficiently.”

Unprecedented volumes of complex and diverse data sets are being generated daily across a range of industries and public sector organizations. The term “Big Data” encompasses the challenge of collecting, analyzing and disseminating the massive data sets that are currently being generated and stored. Private industry and government officials are seeking ways to harness, analyze and exploit these data sets in ways that provide greater value to their customers and citizens. While Big Data is a relatively new term, the problem is not. What is changing is both the volume of the data and the pressure to find technological solutions to managing, storing and utilizing that data.

Technology Subcommittee Chairman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.): “As our computing power has increased, so has the luxury of storing more data.  Today, managing this data allows for better-informed experiments, more exact metrics and perhaps significantly longer doctoral theses.  Incorporating computer power to process more scientific data is transforming laboratories across the country.”

Witnesses testified on innovative data analytics capabilities, research and development (R&D) efforts, management challenges, and workforce development issues associated with the “Big Data” phenomenon.  Big Data represents a significant growth area for private industry. In recent years, industry spending on data analytics and management has increased approximately 10 percent per year. Companies utilize data analytics to manage supply chains, target marketing based on user preferences, provide airline fare prediction services for consumers, and reduce costs by identifying operating inefficiencies, among a multitude of other uses.

The following witnesses testified today:

Dr. David McQueeney, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Worldwide Operations, IBM Research

Dr. Michael Rappa, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics, Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University

Dr. Farnam Jahanian, Assistant Director for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate, National Science Foundation (NSF)