Big Announcements in Big Data by Tom Kalil, Jim Kurose, and Fen Zhao.
From the webpage:
As a part of the Administration’s Big Data Research and Development Initiative and to accelerate the emerging field of data science, NSF announced four awards this week, totaling more than $5 million, to establish four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) across the nation.
Covering all 50 states and including commitments from more than 250 organizations—from universities and cities to foundations and Fortune 500 corporations—the BD Hubs constitute a “big data brain trust” that will conceive, plan, and support big data partnerships and activities to address regional and national challenges.
The “BD Hubs” are: Georgia Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina, Columbia University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, San Diego, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Washington.
Let’s see, out of $5 million, that is almost $715,000 for each “BD Hub.” Given administrative overhead, I don’t think you are going to see much:
…improve[ment] our ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of data, but also help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and fuel the growth and development of Smart Cities in America
Perhaps from the BD Spokes (pronounced “hoax”) initiative which covers particular subject areas for each region?
If you can stomach reading Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs: Establishing Spokes to Advance Big Data Applications (BD Spokes), you will discover that the funding for the “spokes” consists of 9 grants of up to $1,000,000.00 (over 3 years) and 10 planning grants of up to $100,000 (for one year).
Total price tag: $10 million.
BTW, the funding summary includes this helpful note:
All proposals to this solicitation must include a letter of collaboration from a BD Hub coordinating institution. Any proposals not including a letter of collaboration from a BD Hub coordinating institution will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. (emphasis in original)
Would you care to wager on the odds that “a letter of collaboration from a BD Hub coordinating institution” isn’t going to be free?
For comparison purposes and to explain why I suggest you pronounce “Spokes” as “hoax,” consider that in 2014, Google spent $11 billion, Microsoft $5.3 billion, Amazon $4.9 billion and Facebook $1.8 billion, on data center construction.
If the top four big data players are spending billions (that’s with a “b”) on data center construction alone, how does a paltry $15 million (hoax plus the centers):
…improve our ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of data, but also help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and fuel the growth and development of Smart Cities in America
Reminds me of the EC [WPA] Brain Project. The report for year two is summarized:
As the second year of its Ramp-Up Phase draws to a close, the HBP is well-placed to continue its investigations into neuroscience, medicine, and computing. With the Framework Partnership Agreement in place, and preparations underway for the first Specific Grant Agreement, the coordination of the Project is shifting into a higher gear.
Two years into a ten year project and “coordination of the Project is shifting into a higher gear.” (no comment seems snide enough)
My counter-proposal would be that the government buy $10 million (or more) worth of time on Azure/AWS and hold an open lottery for $100,000 increments, with the only requirement that all code and data be under an Apache license and accessible to all on the respective cloud service.
That would buy far more progress on big data issues than the BD Spokes (pronounced “hoax”) initiative.