The U.S. Department of Commerce will hire its first chief data officer, joining a growing number of states and localities that have created data officer positions. "We must build a common platform that ensures greater technical capacity to liberate our data, an ability to combine data in ways that make them more valuable," she said. "We aspire to develop new suites of data products created to meet the needs of businesses, innovators, governments and others." Pritzker pointed to the U.S. Cluster Mapping Registry as an example of effective data use. State and local governments and businesses mine the website's data on regional population clusters for information that helps them make better decisions. The technology armed the government in Dalton, Ga., with the knowledge to make strategic decisions about local economic development, for example.
Pritzker talked up the importance of data as a pervasive presence that shapes various aspects of life, but often is taken for granted. "We know data can inform business decisions and be seeds of economic growth, yet for many Americans and families around the world, data is a somewhat distant concept. Many do not necessarily recognize its importance to their daily lives," she said. "But we know that data is more than obscure numbers on a page. Good data, deployed effectively, can save lives."