Opinion: Intelligently managed public data will accelerate American leadership in science and innovation

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By Dr. Ahu Yildirmaz

The author is CEO of the Coleridge Initiative, a non-profit organization, originally based at New York University, which works with governments to ensure data is used more effectively for public decision-making.

I would be hard pressed to find any other time in our shared history when the facts and the science behind those facts have been more critical to shaping public policy. The bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 that took effect this summer is notable for its breadth of investment in public policy and, likewise, provides an ideal environment to demonstrate how successful data-driven decisions can be made. .

First, let’s be clear: public data exists for the public good. Data is a valuable commodity that is ideology-agnostic, leads to evidence-based conclusions, and has unlimited application. Here at the Coleridge Initiative, we know that better data means better public policy. Our team of data scientists and economists are focused on providing insight and learning through data mining, often integrating data from different states or federal agencies through our secure data enclave , applied data analytics training, and state-specific data products. This platform allows us to inform any public policy discussion by extracting the information needed to make the best decisions.

A key part of the CHIPS and Science Act is the investment of billions in regional technology centers across America. These hubs will combine the efforts of state and local governments, businesses, unions, colleges and community groups in powerful regional partnerships focused on creating new jobs and industries of the future. All of these disparate communities have accumulated huge amounts of data in their own silos. We can unlock greater value from this data when we can integrate it into a secure, accessible and useful platform.

This is where Coleridge is working, in partnership with the University of Maryland and other research universities.

Here’s another way to think of a linked data platform. Imagine two cities separated by a river. A city has jobs to fill, but no people. The other town has a lot of people, but not enough jobs. The construction of a bridge over the river connects the cities – their workforce, industries and commerce – forming a larger economy of greater value and prosperity.

Consider a linked data platform like this bridge, bringing together and managing labor and education data from multiple jurisdictions across geographies, and integrating that data, creating more valuable information products. An effective collaborative data infrastructure, like our Linked Data Platform, provides clarity for policy makers seeking solutions to pressing issues facing their communities and constituents.

Since its inception, the non-partisan, non-profit Coleridge Initiative has helped create value for taxpayers through data management. Going forward, we will focus on integrating research, data, and training/community development. Each of these elements has tremendous value on its own, but integrating them through a data platform greatly amplifies the value of secure data links for decision makers. The regional hubs that will be formed by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act are an opportunity to demonstrate how data science can drive better public outcomes.

Data scientists, researchers and information engineers at the Coleridge Initiative know that data exists for the public good. Moreover, we know that data is essential for shaping evidence-based policies in a rapidly changing environment. There couldn’t be a better time than now to apply data from multiple sources to policy efforts like CHIPS and the Science Act. Managed well and integrating different data sets into a secure platform, data can inform public policy decisions to accelerate American leadership in science and innovation.

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