About a year ago the Obama administration announced a Big Data Research and Development Initiative to focus on extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data. It included an initial investment of more than $200 million to improve tools and techniques for accessing, organizing, and extracting knowledge from the huge volumes of data that are available. The list of ongoing Federal government programs that relate to big data is extensive.
Yesterday at a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) event, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced a $37.8M funding commitment to develop new data science facilities at the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley), the University of Washington (UW) and New York University (NYU).
UC Berkeley has announced the creation of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS), which is scheduled to begin operating in Spring 2014 in partnership with the UW eScience Institute and the NYU Center for Data Science.
It is fantastic that data and its management and analysis at long last has been recognized as serious enough to be studied in an academic environment. It will be interesting to see how geospatial data fits into this.
For a compelling open source-oriented perspective on this, take a look at Fernando Perez's blog where he makes the case that open source is a key ingredient in this effort.