“The question I always ask private businesses is, ‘what do you need?’ and usually the response is, “what do you have?”’ remarked Mike Kruger, Director of Digital Strategy at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mike sat down with me at the “secret Starbucks” in Freedom Plaza (ok, not so secret, it’s in the Marriot) and said a word I felt a slight chill go down my spine from – “DATA.”
**Sidebar: I was deemed “data girl” once in a job that shall remain nameless. I was tasked with searching and trying to make sense of miscellaneous data found on the system Oracle. No offense to Oracle, but as I writer, you can imagine how thrilled I was for that bait and switch**
Anyways, Mike IS way more skilled and knows the value of data which leads to his burning question:
Mike’s Burning Question: How do I, and the Department of Commerce, not leave any data on the table?
“This isn’t necessarily about big data,” commented Kruger. “It’s about how we analyze the metadata available to us.” The far greater challenge is streamlining all the available data out there among the Department of Commerce’s 12 agencies into one comprehensive grouping that enables American businesses to gain a competitive edge. “We are seeing the private sector doing it more and more to improve their bottom line – Facebook, dating websites, Amazon – it’s time government got into the game.”
I don’t think anyone would protest against improving the economy by growing sales for businesses and adding more jobs, do you? “Say you have an aviation company that makes parts for a plane. Don’t you think it would be nice to know information on the density of clouds from the scientists at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in order to ensure a better part to handle high density in flight?” commented Kruger. Ah, so I see, information is power!
Mike described something called “The Data Catalogue” that will soon be available in December on the Department of Commerce website. I was intrigued – “What is ‘The Data Catalogue?”’ “It’s an online listing of all data and metadata that is available somewhere in the burrows of the Commerce site. This site serves as a central hub and directs traffic to those dark corners.” Stay tuned here for the listing.
With all this wonderful information at our fingertips, why hasn’t this happened sooner? “Identifying the return on investment is a little tough,” said Kruger. “We need the resources to figure out how to free up the data and organize it in a way that U.S. business owners can understand and use.” There also is a particular socializing element that needs to happen according to Kruger. In order to access the data, business owners have to be willing to admit what data they need and for what. And in a competitive market, I very much doubt they’ll share that information easily.
Next steps would be cross-agency collaboration says Kruger. There are plenty of other agencies that gather data that would be extremely valuable to consumers. “The way I look at it is this my top priority during the rest of my time at Commerce,” said Kruger. “And I think we can get there.” We’re with you, Mike!
Department of Commerce & Mike Kruger Social Feeds:
Department Twitter: @CommerceGov
Secretary Twitter: @CommerceSec
Department LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/u.s.-department-of-commerce