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Media Advisory 13-013

Data: a resource more valuable than gold?

US-hosted meeting of international group to address data sharing across global and disciplinary boundaries

Illustration showing silhouettes sitting at a table with a globe in the background

The international Research Data Alliance convenes in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16-18.

September 11, 2013

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Is data the new gold? Data is valuable, and if properly shared, it can transform lives, whether the setting is disaster management and prediction, health care or environmental stewardship. But unlike a commodity, data is inexhaustible. Data is the rich and growing renewable resource of the information age. Insights made possible because of the availability of data translate into economic advantage. And like all valuable natural resources, data must be used and managed with care and consideration.

Top leaders from the White House and U.S. science agencies understand the importance of data. From Sept. 16 to 18, 2013, they and their international colleagues will gather for three days in Washington, D.C., for a major meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA).

Launched in March of 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), European Commission and the Australian government, RDA membership is growing.

Today, more than 850 international researchers and data experts from 51 countries belong to the RDA, which focuses on the development and adoption of common tools, harmonized standards and infrastructure needed for data sharing by researchers, as well as the application of policy and best practice to facilitate data-driven research.

RDA members work across dozens of disciplines to tackle data topics pertaining to global agricultural research and innovation, history and ethnography, human health and a host of other issues.

Monday morning sessions will kick off the important discussion and work to take place over the course of the meeting.

Highlights include:

  • Why does government care about data? White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalil provides some answers.
  • Why does data sharing matter to humanity? Sage Bionetworks Chief Commons Officer John Wilbanks offers insights.
  • Why has NSF helped to fund this enterprise? Head of NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate Farnam Jahanian explains why.
  • What are the social structures necessary for data sharing? University of Illinois Professor Carole Palmer shares some plans.

Visit the Research Data Alliance's webpage to see a full, detailed agenda and participation logistics.

Members of the media and the public are invited to public portions of the meeting. Members of the press who would like to attend, please contact Lisa-Joy Zgorski, 703-292-8311.


Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (703) 292-8311, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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