News & AnalysisU.S. Science Policy

Agencies Rally to Tackle Big Data

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Science  06 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6077, pp. 22
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6077.22

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A federal effort is under way to improve the nation's ability to manage, understand, and act upon the 1.2 zettabytes (1021) of electronic data generated each year. Its goal is to increase fundamental understanding of the technologies needed to manipulate and mine massive amounts of information; apply that knowledge to other scientific fields; address national goals in health, energy, defense, and education; and train more researchers to work with those technologies. The impetus for the initiative, to be managed by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, comes from a December 2010 report by a presidential task force that concluded the nation was "underinvesting" in the field. Computer scientists welcome the spotlight that the White House is shining on big-data research.