April 24, 2013 – Big data got the attention of the federal government Wednesday at a hearing that set the stage for potential innovation and job creation.

On Wednesday, a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a joint hearing of its research and science subcommittees in Washington, D.C. to explore the research, efficiency, innovation, job opportunities and challenges surrounding big data and emerging analytics. Testifying before the subcommittee were Dr. David McQueeney, VP of technical strategy and worldwide operations for IBM’s Research division, Dr. Michael Rappa, executive director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics and professor at North Carolina State University, and Dr. Farnam Jahanian, assistant director for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate at the National Science Foundation.

In his talk on the “next generation computing,” McQueeney highlighted the ongoing shift to exoscale computing and the everyday examples of analytics in use, such as the police department of the city of Memphis using data to map crime “hot spots.” To keep computational advances moving forward and bring along with it private and public sector competitive data advantages, McQueeney promoted targeted and reinstated federal research into large-scale computing and analytic projects.

“Government funded research and domain skills especially at our national laboratories should target systems for modeling, simulation and analytics on big data,” he testified, later adding that though the U.S. remains the leader in big data research and hiring, “the rest of the world is catching up rapidly.”

Tapping into the “surging” workforce possibilities behind big data dominated the talk from Congressional representatives. To that end, U.S. Rep Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana), chairman of the research subcommittee, noted that the awareness of these analytic positions hasn’t seemed to trickle down to the high school level, or even earlier. Rappa amounted that challenge to one of awareness, but one he said is changing rapidly in favor of more data recognition and degrees. In response to a secondary question on meeting the possible millions of new data jobs expected by various reports over the next few years, Rappa said graduate, undergraduate and even community colleges should work more to mix technical skills with soft skills like communication to better meet the demand from employers of rounded, analytic employees.

In March 2012, federal agencies and the Obama administration announced spending on research and programs related to innovating and expanding the role of data management and collaboration.

To view a replay of the hearing and testimony, visit here.

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