The U.S. Government, as well as the private sector, is sitting on a vast – and in many cases, untapped – supply of energy data. Sets of data aren’t what most people think of when we talk about safely and responsibly developing American energy resources such as wind, solar, oil, and gas. But data are also essential components of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy. To help harness the power of these data through a combination of technology and ingenuity, the Obama Administration has launched the Energy Data Initiative (EDI). The goal of EDI is to drive entrepreneurs to use data to create tools that can help Americans save money on utility bills and at the pump – by, for example, virtually identifying cost-effective retrofits or delivering route- and vehicle-optimization tips to improve fuel efficiency. In doing so, this will generate a rising tide of innovation that can help grow the economy and create jobs.
To kick off the EDI, this week the White House and U.S. Department of Energy participated in an “Energy Data Jam” in Silicon Valley. This workshop brought together a group of America’s most innovative entrepreneurs, software developers, CEOs, energy experts, and policy makers to take advantage of existing and newly available government data to spark new private-sector consumer-facing and business-oriented tools, products, and services – think smart phone apps – all while rigorously protecting personal, proprietary, and national security information.
Standardizing and liberating energy data empowers consumers and businesses and spurs innovation. We’re building on work already under way – such as the Green Button initiative, where utilities and service providers serving more than 30 million customers have committed to providing easy access to personal, secure, understandable energy usage data in a common, machine-readable format. And the Department of Energy has been running an Apps for Energy contest and managing an $8 million grant-funding opportunity to help consumers better manage their energy consumption through improved access to energy data. Both the contest winners and grant recipients were announced today.
Led by the Energy Department in collaboration with other Departments and the White House, the EDI commits the Administration to release additional data resources in computer-readable form, and calls upon private-sector organizations to voluntarily give consumers secure access to their own energy use data. As similar efforts in health and public safety have demonstrated, data from various government and non-government sources can literally fuel new companies, new products, and new features that can improve Americans’ lives.
Our communities, our economy, and our environment all stand to benefit as we move forward with the EDI to unlock datathat can lead us to new ways to save energy and money, reduce pollution, provide energy services, and create jobs to ensure an American economy that is built to last.
Todd Park is the U.S. Chief Technology officer and Assistant to the President
Jason Bordoff is the Associate Director for Energy and Climate Change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and a Senior Advisor for Energy and Environmental Policy at the National Economic Council
David Danielson is the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy