U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced a big data project with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, Microsoft Corp., and the Open Cloud Consortium to explore ways of bringing the Department closer to its goal of unleashing its vast resources of environmental data and delivering on one of the Department’s key priorities – transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-driven economy. Secretary Pritzker made the announcement during a keynote address at the American Meteorological Society’s Washington Forum.

These collaborations, established through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, or CRADAs, will provide the framework for a set of data alliances led by each of the anchor companies. Data alliances, which consist of participating organizations across the private and public sectors, will work to research and test solutions for bringing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) vast information to the cloud, where both the public and industry can easily and equally access, explore, and create new products from it, fostering new ideas and spurring economic growth.

“As America’s Data Agency, we are excited about these collaborations and the opportunities they present to drive economic growth and business innovation,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The Commerce Department’s data collection literally reaches from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun and this announcement is another example of our ongoing commitment to providing a broad foundation for economic growth and opportunity to America’s businesses by transforming the Department’s data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.”

NOAA gathers over 20 terabytes of data every day – more than twice the data of the entire printed collection of the United States Library of Congress. This environmental intelligence comes from a wide variety of sources, including Doppler radar systems, weather satellites, buoy networks and stations, tide gauges, real-time weather stations, as well as ships and aircraft. However, right now only a small percentage of this valuable data is easily accessible to the public. The demand for this data has increased, and it is imperative to find ways to effectively and efficiently distribute this data to decision makers and industries.

Accordingly, last year NOAA issued a Request for Information to engage private industry to help make NOAA’s data available in a rapid, scalable manner to the public. Through this process, American companies were asked to suggest ways for NOAA to more effectively distribute its data, allowing industry to take advantage of the untapped value of NOAA’s public data resources by creating new and innovative products and services. This process led NOAA to the agreements with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, Microsoft, and Open Cloud Consortium.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with NOAA to allow users to take advantage of the powerful and easy to use big data processing services on Google Cloud Platform, such as Google BigQuery and Google Cloud Dataflow, to process NOAA datasets,” said Tom Kershaw, director of product management for Google Cloud Platform.

“This is an important step forward in IBM’s long partnership with NOAA as the agency evolves to bring its massive, daily aggregation of weather and climate data to the IBM Cloud in an open manner,” said Anne Altman, IBM general manager for U.S. Federal and Government Industries. “By sharing NOAA data in the IBM Cloud, our ecosystem of partners, developers and customers will have the means to not only apply analytics, but also develop new apps with our digital innovation platform Bluemix to garner even greater value from the information.”

“NOAA is well positioned to forge incredible new paths around open data with this collaboration, allowing government and industry to use cloud platforms like Microsoft’s Azure Government to tap into NOAA scientist’s weather, water, ocean, and climate data,” said Greg Myers, vice president of Microsoft Federal. “By consolidating NOAA’s vast datasets and making them available on Azure Government, public and private sector partners can help to speed the rate of innovation and create new insights that will positively affect the lives of millions through mission-critical applications.”

“Ease of access to the wealth of climate, weather, and environmental data NOAA is making available will have an enormous impact on researchers across many disciplines. The purpose of the Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) collaboration with the NOAA is to make finding and accessing this data easier for the academic, non-profit, and research communities, to enable scientific analysis and to drive discovery,” said Dr. Robert Grossman, director of the Open Cloud Consortium.

So what does this mean to the economy? According to a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute Report, open data could add more than $3 trillion in total value annually to the education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, healthcare, and consumer finance sectors worldwide. If more of this data could be efficiently released, organizations will be able to develop new and innovative products and services to help us better understand our planet and keep communities resilient from extreme events.

Additional information about this project, including contacts for each of the anchor companies, can be found at http://data-alliance.noaa.gov

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and our other social media channels.