Energy Education Data Jam 2014
Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama launched the Open Government Initiative, an effort to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration in the federal government. The initiative introduced a number of websites and strategies to offer raw government data, including research grant information on data.gov. For energy gurus, data.gov/energy offers downloads of energy-related data such as energy use and consumption in the U.S.
Yet the mere provision of open data is not enough; a key component of making data accessible is providing context and meaning to that data to enable the public to solve problems, identify patterns, and draw conclusions. Many government agencies have been using data jams, datapaloozas, or hackathons to introduce data resources to the public, bringing together interdisciplinary groups of experts from both the private and public sectors to explore the data and brainstorm new creations.
Since 2011, federal agencies including the Department of Energy (DOE) have hosted data jams gathering subject-matter experts, technology experts, designers and industry to leverage innovative ideas, proofs of concept, and road maps for the implementation of new solutions to national challenges with the help of government datasets. All data jams follow a common structure:
- Assemble innovators and entrepreneurs from the government, non-profits, educational institutions, and the private sector;
- Introduce open government datasets and relate them to national challenges;
- Form small groups to brainstorm products, services, and technological tools that could solve national challenges and be created within 90 days;
- Have participants vote on the most promising product ideas; and
- Encourage individual data jam participants to volunteer to create these new products within 90 days.
After—and even during—the events, the attendees form ideas or roadmaps, or may already be on their way to implementing innovative creations.
Purpose of Energy Education Data Jam and Addressing Energy Literacy
While many energy-related data jams and hackathons have produced energy consumption-related apps or technologies, an opportunity remains to create energy education content. Therefore, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory teamed up to hold the first Energy Education Data Jam on March 27th of this year, which focused on education related content.
Data jam participants completed a one-day workshop that consisted of speakers, highlights of currently available datasets and brainstorming sessions to clarify and pitch ideas. The focus of the jam was to brainstorm visualizations, games or web-based tools using energy education data. Participants learned about current datasets and tools, including Open Energy Information (OpenEI), Buildings, Industry, Transportation and Electricity Scenarios (BITES), Energy Literacy Framework, Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) and gamification techniques.
Teams of data jam attendees that succeed in creating demos and prototypes by May 2014 will be invited to an upcoming White House tech showcase designed to highlight innovative uses of energy data. Stay tuned to see what ideas come to life and what datasets were used by exploring the 2014 Energy Education Data Jam OpenEI wiki.
Linda Silverman is the lead for Education and Workforce Development at DOE's office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
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