2012 was a good year for American innovation. The outgrowth of the “Data Jam” from the health sector into other areas like energy and education sparked an inspiring wave of entrepreneurship. These Jams — formerly known as Joint Application Modeling Sessions — were a major improvement to the familiar format of public-private collaboration workshops. Looking to 2013, the Energy Department is announcing today the next round of Data Jams.
Todd Park. U.S. Chief Technology Officer, speaks at the 2012 Education Data Jam.
The new Data Jams are being co-hosted and organized by regional innovation hubs, industry groups and start-up incubators. Although focused on certain geographies and sectors, they all have the same common structure:
- Step One: Assemble inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector, government, academia and non-profit entities.
- Step Two: Provide an introduction to valuable open datasets and align them to common challenges.
- Step Three: Small groups brainstorm new products, services, apps or features that could solve common challenges and be created within 90 days.
- Step Four: Large group votes on the best ideations.
- Step Five: Individuals volunteer to create new products within 90 days.
Beyond the obvious commercial advantage of creating new products that help people, another incentive for volunteers at Data Jams is the possibility of being invited to annual showcase Datapaloozas, like the one hosted by the Energy Department last October. As demonstrated by the roster of upcoming Data Jams, the Federal government is not required to be “at the table” in order to host a Data Jam. Data Jams can be held wherever there are people willing to convene innovators with a bias-for-action. In the next few months, Energy Data Jams will include a vehicles-focused Data Jam with the automotive industry in Detroit, the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, NC, Boston Cleanweb, and New York Energy Week.
For additional information on past Data Jams, resultant products, and to explore the open energy datasets yourself, please check out the Energy Data Initiative collaboration platform on OpenEI.
Presidential Innovation Fellow Ian Kalin is Director of the Energy Data Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy.