Aneesh Chopra: Blue Buttoning Our Own Data Will Fuel Innovation & Empower Americans


Parag-Khanna (17) If you haven’t heard of the name before, Aneesh Chopra is the United States Chief Technology Officer, where he serves as an Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology within the Office of Science & Technology Policy. Whooah Nelly, that’s a mouthful of a title.

In other words, he works to advance the President’s technology agenda by fostering new ideas and encouraging government-wide coordination to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland.

I had a chance to listen to him speak at the Idea Festival recently, where his talk focused on the President’s mission and goals, with a central core theme to make it happen: working from the bottom up, not the top down and opening up data so others can create and innovate with it, and we, as a nation, can thrive.

Here’s what they’re currently focused on within the above framework:

  • Putting more people back to work
  • Boosting access to capital for high growth companies
  • Turning job seekers to job creators
  • Unleashing the mobile broadband revolution
  • Modernizing 35,000 schools
  • Making government services transparent to job creators
  • Open Government aka the Start Up America initiative
  • Patent reform
  • Catalyze breakthroughs

Technology was a big part of his message as he echoes Obama’s pitch, “for our families and our businesses, high speed wireless service and mobile is the next train station, it’s the next’s how we’ll spark innovation, new investment, new jobs.” He also referenced Silicon Valley start-ups on more than one occasion, including Instagram and Crowdflower.

He sees cloud computing and mobility unlocking major potential and accelerating productivity in key sectors.

Aneesh says that there’s an aministration commitment to unleash market opportunities by framing current or proposed policies to inspired entrepreneurs and gaining valuable policy feedback for iteration with an emphasis on healthcare, education and energy.

Where is the puck heading?

“We need breakthroughs,” he says. “The only way is to tap into new hubs outside Silicon Valley.” Hear hear Aneesh.

He also talked about education dominance, pushing software that adapts to how students learn, inspiration for the proposed ARPA-ED. They want to open up the data to teachers and make it accessible to them and their students, regardless of where they are in the country.

Another challenge they face he throws the audience’s way is the clean energy revolution. They’re hoping that ARPA-E investments and NIST standards activities will spur creativity.

He cites the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as an example, America’s center for weather data. The weather industry is worth about $2 billion he reminds and “they’re fueled because of open government data.”

Aneesh adds, “we can also encourage market transparency.” is a comprehensive catalog of insurance options, an effort to create more transparency than ever before. You’ll be able to find pricing data, how often an insurance company charges a premium, and how often were people rejected (denied coverage for whatever reason).

He also mentioned “Blue Button”, a public/private initiative that scales, where veterans can download their personal health information from their My HealtheVet account. My HealtheVet users who receive VA health care services can also refill their prescriptions and view their appointments, allergies, and laboratory results online.

Why not transfer that kind of tool to other areas and industries he says, such as education. “Imagine if every student could get a downloadable document of his/her assessment, a personalized platform that translates from student performance to market reality. We need personalized platforms for each of our children that can translate into something meaningful. This is the kind of thing that can fuel products and services. Find where the data sits and find out a way to liberate that data.”

He adds, “We’re liberating government data & if people can become billionaires because of it, God Bless.” The audience laughs.

He continued to push the open government throughout his talk including in the Q&A at the end, which was incredibly well received. (note: while the audience had visitors from the west coast, DC, the north, NYC and other places, there was a large number of locals – aka the midwest meets the south…in other words, family values and education are high priorities).

Certainly blue buttoning our own data is going to fuel innovation and empower individuals. Isn’t it where we have to go? If we don’t, we become victims rather than creators of our own lives and destinies in more ways than one.


Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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