The Transformative Power of Open Data

Repost from the Economics and Statistics Administration:

New York City – Under Secretary Mark Doms participated in a high level data discussion this morning at the Strata+Hadoop World Conference in New York City. Before an audience of 500 leading technologists and data programmers, Under Secretary Doms talked with host Jennifer van der Meer, Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and CEO of Reason Street, to explore the Department of Commerce’s strategic data plan and Doms’ efforts to move the federal statistical system into the era of big data.

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Doms noted that the US Department of Commerce has long been a powerhouse for government data, trailblazing the use of government statistics and analysis to help everyone make more informed decisions. Now, in the era of big data, with large volumes of data collected and analyzed by the private sector, by citizens themselves, the agency, with Doms leadership, is working to position itself as a leader in the federal data space. Jennifer van der Meer asked the Under Secretary about Commerce’s plans to hire its first Chief Data Officer, stand up a Data Advisory Council populated with private sector and academic data leaders, and ways the Department is looking to team with the private sector to better collect, disseminate, and analyze Commerce data.

Doms went on to highlight the fact that challenges facing companies and our society often do not fit neatly in the “buckets” represented by the various federal agencies. Commerce has data that, say, could be meshed with Department of Education data, to tackle our nation’s skills gap or help students determine which majors have the best return on investment. Doms noted Commerce’s involvement with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and their efforts to coordinate interagency discussion to share best practices and tackle cross-agency challenges. Doms pointed out this coordination is critical to unleashing the positive benefits of federal data, with the next step being to figure out how to incorporate private datasets and get greater corporate buy-in to the open data movement currently underway at the federal, state and local level.

Under Secretary Doms closed out the discussion by making the case that the federal government must remain a leader in data. Like our basic scientific research, the building and maintaining of our nation’s highways and water treatment facilities, and rural postal delivery, providing comprehensive data on our people, economy and the planet will continue to be a core federal mission. This information is critical to decision making by every business, government, and citizen, and the private sector simply does not have the financial incentive to fill this role. Doms thanked Jennifer and the audience for a lively discussion, one that further informed his efforts, under Secretary Pritzker’s leadership, to revolutionize data at the Department of Commerce.

Government Stats at Strata Hadoop

Tomorrow I look forward to a fireside chat conversation with Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Mark Doms at Strata Hadoop’s Data Driven Business Day.

Government Statistics in the Era of Big Data
Mark Doms (United States Department of Commerce), Jen van der Meer (Reason Street)
9:25am Wednesday, 10/15/2014
Data-Driven Business Day

Location: E 20/ E 21

The US Department of Commerce has long been the powerhouse of government data, trailblazing the use of government statistics and analysis for all of us to make more informed decisions. Now that the era of big data is upon us, with large volumes of data collected and analyzed by the private sector, by citizens themselves, and sensors, how is the agency adapting to this new data environment? During this conversation with Dr. Mark Doms, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs for the Department of Commerce, we will discuss the value of data in the economy at a macro level and how data collection, aggregation and analysis methods are adapting in response to technological change. What does this mean for you and your company? Come to this fireside chat at Data Driven Business Day to learn more.

And on PR Newswire.

 

 

Bodies and Buildings Class 3: Health Systems and Open Data

We mapped the obesity systems of Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Columbia, and the NJ Path Conductors.

Last week students not born in the US were surprised that the obesity epidemic “snuck up” on Americans. So students looked at other countries, and those that focused on their home countries were surprised to find the epidemic at its roots.

Global trends in non US countries:

  • Japan is the least obese country, but not uniformly. In Okinawa, were Western lifestyle was introduced, obesity rates are at 50%.
  • Peer pressure keeps women at low BMI rates in Bogota, Columbia and the rest of Japan among women, but the reverse is true for men.
  • Depression and Korea and Japan are a growing problem, but not correlated to obesity the way this happens in the US.
  • In Columbia and Mongolia, governments have introduced efforts to discourage malnourishment – yet only a few years later the problem shifts to an increase in obesity.
  • Ethnographic observation of American work conditions vs. other countries reveals a profound difference in respect, dignity, and life experience. We compared the PATH train conductor to the Russian museum security guard with the Japanese shinkansen train conductor, and the connections between work, dignity, and obesity.

Here are class notes:

 

And next week’s assignment:

Write a one-page essay to be presented in class.

Assume someone you love has been prescribed a wearable device to track their glucose levels, heart rate, and emotional state, and the doctor is at a research organization asking for the data to be donated to a larger research effort.

What do you advise and why?

Would this change if the research study was also measuring the quality and quantity of interactions between caregivers (yourself) and your loved one?

 

Bodies and Buildings NYU ITP Syllabus for 2014

Bodies and Buildings
Fall 2014 Syllabus
NYU ITP
Instructor: Jen van der Meer
jd1159 at nyu dot edu
Mondays 6:30 – 9:25 PM 721 Broadway at Waverly

Generative Spiral

Why is it so hard to care for our planet and ourselves? We seem hungover from a century of prosperity and ingenuity, unable to invent economic models that create jobs, improve health, and restore the earth. Eager ITP students are better equipped than MBAs to envision and hack our way out of this trap, but often lack an understanding of the mega forces of business, regulation, and bad cultural habits that keep us from saving ourselves. But don’t despair! We’ll get busy, and make things again – but also provide you with conceptual scaffolding upon which to build your world changing ideas.

Our tools of understanding include deep design thinking, and systems thinking. By focusing on two systems in particular: human bodies, and the buildings that humans make, we will examine the environmental and social impacts of the economic systems. Bodies are in trouble right now – despite reaching the peak of productivity the US now leads the world in the rampant growth of chronic diseases that lower life expectancy, and reduced life quality. Buildings are not in enough trouble – they account for the largest source of both electricity consumption (68% of global use) and greenhouse gas emissions (48% of global emissions) in the world.

In this course we will discover what Dana Meadows calls “leverage points” as places to intervene that would transform the system as a whole.

Goals:

This is a lecture course, and the syllabus is built to provide students with a systems thinking approach to problem solving. The objective for the final presentations is for students to generate a concept that can be applied to improve human health, building health, or both. The goal is for students to articulate a solution, and argue persuasively for ideas to become reality (vs. moving straight to working prototype in usual ITP fashion). Assignments will involve in person class presentation, and class participation is required. The course is structured to provide iterative opportunities to build and strengthen ideas – rooted in user-centered design, grounded in the realities of sustainable cost models and growth plans, validated by lean and iterative solution development, and strengthened by students’ ability to stand up and tell their stories.

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8 Principals for Designing for Dignity in Health Tech

Thanks all for the great discussion, in real time at StrataRx and on the Twittersphere.

Is it enough to design for a great patient experience, improved health outcomes, and overall cost reductions in health care? While incentives may soon change, the idea of data-driven solutions to improve health care is not a new one. Yet why have technological solutions so frequently fail on all three of the triple aims? We need to be able to ask deeper questions, and experiment with more humanistic approaches.

Looking at specific interaction examples from incumbents and startups in health tech, I will contrast the current approaches for data-driven solution development, and how they fall short at the moment of interaction. Incumbents deploy top down approaches that comply with regulation, and meet the needs of payers and providers, but famously fail to deliver engaging patient and practitioner experiences. New entrants want to disrupt the entire system, but often struggle to understand deep unmet patient needs, and how to demonstrate evidence-based outcomes.

For each solution born onto the health tech scene, can we ask: Are patient’s lives enhanced by the addition of data? Do doctors become more wise? Do nurses feel more empowered? Do spouses know how to effectively intervene? Do adult children of aging parents get more time in their overly stretched days? And do these collective interactions actually result in improved population health?

This talk will outline an approach to design for a higher aim and enhance the lives of everyone who seeks care from the health care system.

 

Here are the slides:

 

Disrupting the Self : The Mindfulness Continuum

At Startupfest Montreal at the invitation of curator extraordinaire Alistair Croll and his amazing sister Rebecca Croll. Tomorrow’s discussion: Disrupting the Self: Lifelogging, Wearable Computing and Society. I promise a deep, context setting and likely provocative discussion with Dulcie Madden, one of the founders of Rest Devices – who provide “human centered devices that make people healthy and relaxed” – including the launch of this sensor-packed babe onesie. 

The Mindfulness Continuum

The Mindfulness Continuum

I’ve been thinking about life logging since the year 2001 – when I had the opportunity to work on the Stress Eraser with an extraordinary team at Frog Design’s New York studio. I was the Managing Director but thanks to a post 9/11 effort to make the organization lean, I got to roll up my sleeves and do project work. Before there was Quant Self and the Lean Startup Experience, we had been engaged to work with a single company founder to build a product and help devise a business for breathing coach device that measured heart rate variability. We applied design thinking techniques- building a hypothesis of the target persona, and interviewing people directly.

In fact, we helped devise what would now be known as a pivot. Our founder entrepreneur had envisioned designing this device to meet the needs of yoga instructors, who would then recommend this device to their client base. But each yoga instructor we met rejected the idea of a device guiding the breathing and relaxation experience. Instead – yoga instructors sought mindfulness – a state of not having to be data driven, and in fact not having to use cognition to achieve a state of rest.

So we then went to the opposite of mindfulness – people who suffered anger management and anxiety issues, who had actually been diagnosed by a clinician and who were advised a course of treatment. While the tenor of these conversations was challenge – it took a while to establish trust and get to the underlying issues, we realized we had found a deep, truly unmet need. These potential customers were struggling to access a sense of themselves that would provide a window into their condition. When we finally tested the prototypes, it was often the first time this cohort was able to connect the effect their actual breathing had on their sense of stress level and anxiety.

The ultimate health was to never need such a device, but there was a substantial and likely growing group of people that needed this assist to cross the chasm – from non awareness to initial awareness. In systems thinking this is called double loop learning  where participants not only get feedback on their decisions and consequences, but over time change their mental models and decision rules. Yet for someone who has a lifetime of unhealthy breathing, eating, or exercising, it may mean that life change will require continuous support for this learning process. (More on single and double loop learning here in a course I teach at NYU ITP – Bodies and Buildings) and this study of meditation and mindfulness by Jerath Barnes and Wright in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Flash forward to today, and the next 3 years of massive change in the health care sector, and we will see many startups and large companies repeat this exercise, getting that initial target customer wrong, over estimating the desire of people to be gamified into sleeker, healthier, smoke free versions of themselves, and using the wrong triggers. So how to think about the opportunity? Design for Mindfulness. Erika Carlson at Washington University in St. Louis recently published an excellent study on mindfulness as a goal. Drawing from cognitive, clinical, and social psychology, Carlson outlines a theoretical link between mindfulness and self-knowledge that suggests focusing our attention on our current experiences in a nonjudgmental way could be an effective tool for getting to know ourselves better. We will not truly move to a data-driven, transparent future of reduced cost, improved patient experience, and improved health outcomes (The Triple Aim) until we are first able to reach people at the right point on the mindfulness continuum.

 

Best of Strata: Data is Not a Business Model

Update July 2, 2013: My talk is now available on YouTube:

 

My talk is being broadcast at an upcoming Webinar brought to you by O’Reilly:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

5 AM San Francisco | 1pm – London | 8am – New York | 10pm – Sydney | 9pm – Tokyo | 8pm – Beijing | 5:30pm – Mumbai

Big data does not necessarily lead to big business outcomes. It is a rare business leader who even asks the biggest questions of what big data can do. Everyone is looking for ways to define data as an asset that can be monetized. But data itself will never move the needle for the Fortune 1000. Data is a means to an end. The end is not just insight, or knowledge, or brief moments of wisdom (when marveling at gorgeous data visualizations). The end we seek is wise action.

Looking at examples from health care, advertising, open government, publishing, and financial services, I will contrast the current approaches of big data business models with a more innovative, scalable, and effective action-oriented approach.

I will outline the key pitfalls data geeks fall prey to, and how you are most certainly too smart for your own good when talking to us MBAs. I will show how your service can deliver evidence-based decision-making to the people that matter on the front lines, and at the highest levels of the organization. I will also show you how to design data services that get people to care about their jobs, and their contribution to their company goals.

This talk will help anyone who is tasked with determining how to get more business action out of data.

Register here for the webinar.

My original presentation slides are available on Slideshare.

And I’ll be at StrataRx this coming September.