Is data the new gold? Data is valuable, and if properly shared, it can transform lives, whether the setting is disaster management and prediction, healthcare or environmental stewardship. But unlike a commodity, data is inexhaustible. Data is the rich and growing renewable resource of the information age. Insights made possible because of the availability of data translate into economic advantage. And like all valuable natural resources, data must be used and managed with care and consideration.

Top leaders from the White House and U.S. science agencies understand the importance of data. From Sept. 16 to 18, 2013, they and their international colleagues will gather for three days in Washington, D.C., for a major meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA).

Launched in March of 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), European Commission and the Australian government, RDA membership is growing.

Today, more than 850 international researchers and data experts from 51 countries belong to the RDA, which focuses on the development and adoption of common tools, harmonized standards and infrastructure needed for data sharing by researchers, as well as the application of policy and best practice to facilitate data-driven research.

RDA members work across dozens of disciplines to tackle data topics pertaining to global agricultural research and innovation, history and ethnography, human health and a host of other issues.

Monday morning sessions will kick off the important discussion and work to take place over the course of the meeting.

Highlights include:

  • Why does government care about data? White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalilprovides some answers.

  • Why does data sharing matter to humanity? Sage Bionetworks Chief Commons Officer John Wilbanks offers insights.

  • Why has NSF helped to fund this enterprise? Head of NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate Farnam Jahanian explains why.

  • What are the social structures necessary for data sharing? University of Illinois Professor Carole Palmer shares some plans.

Research Data Alliance meeting

Source: National Science Foundation