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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Joshua New
Oil Spill

This week’s list of data news highlights covers April 18-24, 2015 and includes articles about how Twitter data can predict hospital visits and former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to make cities more data-driven.

1. Partnering for More Open Data

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has partnered with Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and the Open Cloud Consortium, a cloud computing infrastructure nonprofit, to help deliver more of the agency’s data to the public. NOAA, which produces 20 terabytes of data per day, created the partnership to provide the public and private sector with more access to the valuable environmental, weather, and climate data it collects but cannot afford to make open. These initial industry and nonprofit partners will benefit from the increased availability of data, which can be used to build new products and services, while simultaneously making this data publicly available.

2. Making Cities More Data-Driven

Bloomberg Philanthropies, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic initiative, will fund the creation of the What Works Cities Initiative to help cities take advantage of data to influence policymaking. Bloomberg Philanthropies will grant 100 cities with between 100,000 and one million residents a total of $42 million to better collect, analyze, share, and apply data for improved decision-making. Several of the initial partners that will work with participating cities include Harvard University’s Government Performance Lab and John Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence.

3. Sharing Data to Fight Deadly Diseases

A project led by British scientists with West African and Saudi Arabian support will make genetic sequence data on Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) available to researchers in real time. Despite how deadly these viruses are, health researchers have only limited knowledge about the viruses, in part because relevant data is rarely shared freely or quickly between scientists. The genetic data sharing project is designed to help researchers learn more about the viruses, such as how they spreading and changing, in order to better diagnose and treat the diseases they cause.

4. Using Twitter to Anticipate Hospital Visits

A team of researchers from the University of Arizona have devised a method of using Twitter data to predict emergency room trends faster and more effectively than existing tools. The researchers analyzed Twitter posts, air quality data, and hospital data to build a model that can predict changes in emergency room visits for asthma-related health issues. The researchers hope to improve their model by studying data for larger populations so it can be used to help hospitals better plan for staffing and equipment needs during health emergencies.

5. Sharing Traffic Data for Everyone’s Benefit

The city of Los Angeles and traffic app Waze have announced a data-sharing partnership designed to make drivers’ lives easier and help the city understand traffic. The city will share data about traffic-causing problems, such as construction road closures, and more serious public safety concerns, such as hit-and-runs and kidnappings, with Waze so app users can better plan their routes and help law enforcement. In exchange, Waze will share anonymized, real-time data on traffic and road conditions generated by the 1.3 million app users in the city with public officials.

6. Improving Intensive Care with a National Database

Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced it will build a national database to track intensive care information and health outcomes at public hospitals. The database will allow for researchers and healthcare providers to better understand health trends and outcomes so hospitals can improve quality of care and better allocate resources for the critically ill, which are frequently associated with high mortality and healthcare costs.

7. Saving Bees with the Internet of Things

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have devised an Internet of Things device to help combat a parasitic, beehive-dwelling mite theorized by some to be causing the potentially catastrophic disappearance of honeybees. Their device, which they call the Eltopia MiteNot, is a camouflaged circuit board loaded with temperature and environment sensors that can be installed inside a beehive. By analyzing the data transmitted from the device, researchers can identify the best time to heat the device up to sterilize male mites before they can fertilize any eggs, but without harming the bees. The researchers hope to make the device available in fall 2015 after more testing.

8. Partnering to Accelerate Genome Sequencing

Intel and Edico Genome, a startup focusing on genetic data analytics, have partnered to reduce the time it takes to sequence DNA and create genetically-tailored treatment for cancers and other diseases. The partnership will take advantage of Intel’s computing power and Edico Genome’s analytics tool to attempt to analyze a patient’s entire genome in real time, as typical methods take between 10 to 20 hours, creating backlogs and delays between the time of sequencing and diagnosis delivery.

9. Tracking Oil Spill Recovery

Residents of Gulf Coast states now have a database to track recovery from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The database, called the Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker, maps 300 planned on ongoing projects funded by British Petroleum and its drilling partners to help restore the environment, improve recreational areas, and further scientific research in areas affected by the spill.

10. France Will Lead Open Government Partnership

France has been elected to head the Open Government Partnership, an international effort formed in 2011 to improve, among other things, transparency and the use of technology in government, with a large emphasis on opening government data to the public. France joined the Open Government Partnership last year and the group now comprises of 65 countries. France will start as head of the partnership in October 2016.

Image: U.S. Coast Guard.


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