White House Cites Web Science Research
The White House on May 21 cited Rensselaer for its leadership role in using the Web to promote government transparency. The announcement was made at an event in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the open government Web site Data.gov
U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra applauded Rensselaer researchers and students for developing in the past eight months more than 40 applications that use datasets from Data.gov in new and innovative ways. These applications range from easily searching the roster of visitors to the White House and tracking foreign aid across the world, to shining light on the ratio of debt to assets for bankrupt companies, Kundra said on the White House Blog.
“It’s been very exciting working with the Data.gov group. The ‘yes we can’
attitude of this team, and their willingness to explore innovative technologies, has made this an outstanding public-private partnership, and an amazing opportunity for Rensselaer students.”
James Hendler White House Blog.
At the Data.gov anniversary event, Kundra named Professor James Hendler as “Internet Web Expert” for the Data.gov project. In this role, Hendler is charged with assisting the Data.gov team in identifying new and emerging technologies that will maintain and increase the momentum of the site and better allow U.S. citizens to understand and interact with the federal government.
“It’s been very exciting working with the Data.gov group,” said Hendler, senior constellation professor of the Tetherless World Research Constellation and assistant dean for information technology and web science. “The ‘yes we can’ attitude of this team, and their willingness to explore innovative technologies, has made this an outstanding public-private partnership, and an amazing opportunity for Rensselaer students.”
The team, including fellow constellation professors Deborah McGuinness and Peter Fox, and their students, has created more than 40 applications that “mash up” government data from different sources in meaningful, innovative combinations. At the Washington, D.C., event, graduate student Dominic DiFranzo presented demos of several applications, including one he developed that pairs raw data on ozone and visibility readings with separate geographical data on where the readings were taken. This had not been done before, as the two data sets were released on separate Web sites using differing technologies. The result plots this combined information in a way that’s interactive, user-friendly, and intuitive.
In April, Rensselaer launched the nation’s first undergraduate degree program dedicated to the interdisciplinary field of Web Science. Students in this program will investigate issues on the Web related to security, trust, privacy, content value, and the development of the Web of the future. The Web Science program will include faculty from computer science, management, cognitive science, and the humanities, as well as Hendler, McGuinness, and Fox. In May, Rensselaer opened its new Web Science Research Center, which is a founding member of the Web Science Network Trust.
For more information on Rensselaer Data.gov research, visit www.data.gov/semantic/index and http://data-gov.tw.rpi.edu/wiki.