Weekly News Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced an executive order on open data this week.

Published on April 11th, 2014 | by Travis Korte

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10 Bits: The Data News Hot List

This week’s list of data news highlights covers April 5-11 and includes articles on the City of Boston’s open data executive order and the growth of campaign analytics in India.

1. Senate Passes DATA Act

The Senate passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) this week, leaving only a procedural vote in the House between the financial open data bill and the president. The legislation would mandate federal spending reports to be published as open data in standard formats. The DATA Act would make it easier for government auditors and the public to conduct analytics on this information to root out fraud, waste, and abuse in federal spending.

2. Boston Mayor Issues Open Data Executive Order

Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh signed an executive order this week to make the city’s public data accessible online in machine readable formats. City agencies will be required to publish information such as restaurant inspections, crime statistics, and emergency response times. Boston already has an open data portal with 342 posted data sets, and the order is set to pave the way for many more.

3. Campaign Analytics in India

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party is using data and analytics to rethink numerous aspects of Indian prime ministerial campaigns. Candidate Narendra Modi’s team has used analytics to fundraise, rework advertisements, and microtarget campaign efforts to key demographics. The campaign also offers some public-facing data products, such as up-to-date maps detailing the relative clout of different candidates in different areas.

4. Company Offers Device for the Internet of Tractors

Chicago-based startup 640 Labs is bringing the Internet of Things to farmers with a device that attaches to farm equipment and measures a variety of data ranging from machine performance to soil hardness. The device’s creators hope it will make it easier for farmers to optimize various aspects of their operations. The company, which launched the sensors in private beta in April 2013, is currently tracking 50,000 acres of farmland, and expects to be tracking around 1 million acres by the end of 2014.

5. Big Data’s Role in the Future of High Performance Computing

Scientists creating the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Roadmap, which lays out a 10-year plan for achieving high speed computing goals, have proposed new guidelines for challenges related to “big data.” In a new report, the DOE’s Office of Science outlines goals and challenges for the future of scientific data including the need for fundamental changes to computer architecture, more reliable data preservation regimes, and data analysis that can occur while a supercomputer is running a simulation.

6. DARPA’s Electronic Authentication Project

The Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting proposals for a “dielet,” an electronic component that can authenticate other components and track the spread of counterfeit digital objects in the military supply chain. The agency wants to have metadata on the chain of ownership of documents and other data objects in order to prevent fraud.

7. Tracking Hockey Players’ Movements By Hand

The National Hockey League lacks the automated video tracking systems the National Basketball Association and other sports organization use to collect data on player movements. As a result, hockey fans have taken to mapping some of these movements by hand, in hopes of providing data for assessing teams’ and players’ performance. This manual tracking has shown some early results, but it is costly and time consuming; one cheaper solution to tracking may be inserting RFID chips into the puck and the players’ sticks.

8. Startup Says it Can Find the Algorithm That Best Fits Your Data

Southern California startup Emerald Logic says its software can take a data set and automatically formulate the algorithm that can best predict future information from the system the data represents. The software, called FACET (short for Fast Collective Evolution Technology) subjects thousands of competing algorithms to an evolutionary process by which the most accurate algorithms survive. The company has tested the software with some success, working with scientists at King’s College in London to identify markers for Alzheimer’s disease.

9. Wearable Helps Women Track Fertility

Tempdrop is a wearable device that lets women monitor and record body temperature data, a key leading indicator of fertility. The device measures basal body temperature, the lowest body temperature the body reaches during sleep on a given night, which is also useful information for people suffering from thyroid disease. The device’s creators want to make the data as reusable as possible, making it easy to integrate into other fertility software.

10. Foundation Wants to Build Genome Database for Cancer Research

The Wichita, Kansas-based Dragon Master Foundation is hoping to create a database with at least 50,000 human genomes to spur cancer research. The foundation, created by two parents whose child had died of brain cancer, is in talks with NetApp and IBM about developing the database.

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About the Author

Travis Korte is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation specializing in data science applications and open data. He has a background in journalism, computer science and statistics. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, he launched the Science vertical of The Huffington Post and served as its Associate Editor, covering a wide range of science and technology topics. He has worked on data science projects with HuffPost and other organizations. Before this, he graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley, having studied critical theory and completed coursework in computer science and economics. His research interests are in computational social science and using data to engage with complex social systems. You can follow him on Twitter @traviskorte.



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