Talking innovation in a data-enabled economy with Secretary Penny Pritzker

Since his first day in office it has been a key priority for President Obama and his Administration to deliver an open and transparent government to better serve the people.

And the leadership at the US Department of Commerce has been working hard to lay the foundation for that transparency in a way that will enable a strong digital economy to endure well past this Administration and benefit American competitiveness for generations to come — with the help of government data.

Indeed, the open data that is being released by the Federal Government and particularly by the Department of Commerce is a key asset that is enabling both transparency and business opportunities across industries.

During her visit to Silicon Valley last week US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wanted the tech community to know that the Department of Commerce is its partner in driving innovations, growing the American economy and opportunities for American workers, made possible by the value of open data.

Known as “America’s Data Agency”, the US Department of Commerce is one of the largest publishers of open data from across its twelve bureaus.

The breadth and depth of data that Commerce provides is vast ranging from weather forecasts to economic data that are important for key business decisions such as where to locate, where to manufacture a product and where to sell that product. The value of this data can translate to tens of billion dollars for the American economy on an annual basis.

Indeed, according to the Open Data 500 Study, the first comprehensive study of its kind, there are in excess of 500 companies that use open government data to fuel innovative businesses in agriculture, finance, energy, education, healthcare, and many other sectors of the economy.

The efforts of Secretary Pritzker and her team go well beyond releasing data, though. The Secretary stressed that there must also be collaboration and partnership between the public and private sectors, standardization and timely accessibility of the data in order to drive maximum value to the business community.

She further highlighted that the government is here to serve its key customer, the public, and that the technology community should view the Commerce Department as its partner. “I want there to be a recognition in the tech community that the Department of Commerce is your partner when it comes to data and the digital economy,” the Secretary said.

And, indeed, the private sector has embraced working with the Commerce Department.

“We have created the Commerce Data Advisory Council which consists of a group of professionals that act like a public company’s board of trustees to help identify the priorities for our department including high level Technology executives such as Intel’s Chief Information Officer, Paypal’s Head of Data Strategy, and IBM’s Chief Information Strategist,” said Secretary Pritzker.

The startup community isn’t ignorant of the benefits of working with the Commerce Department, either. Startups that met with Secretary Pritzker during her visit included Omnity which uses data from the USPTO, BrightBtyes which looks at Census data, Symbiotic Technology and Ecology (STAE), AutoGrid which leverages data releated by NOAA and Arborlight, also relying on data from NOAA.

There is a transformation of the Federal Government underway which goes beyond the modernization of systems being used across the government. It also involves a shift in how government leaders such as Secretary Pritzker, a former CEO herself, are seeking to incorporate private sector best practices and business models.

To learn more about how Secretary Pritzker and her team are engaging with the private sector to drive innovation and opportunities to benefit not just the Department of Commerce but commerce overall, listen to the entire interview, Talking Innovation through Open Data with Secretary Penny Pritzker.