Exciting news for my fellow earth-loving, data devotees!
The White House has put out gobs of climate change data out with the promise for more. Collected primarily from NASA, NOAA, and DOD, the agencies and administration are encouraging people to use it. Cool (and warming, as the case may be)!
They're also hosting an innovative challenge focused on flooding in coastal communities. (Yes, the site is lame but maybe that's a test? Could be that they intend the "prize" to go to whoever can figure out what they want and when its due.) Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing what our local DC tech/big data companies such as Earth Networks, PlanetiQ, and maybe even Opower come up with. This could also be a great opportunity for some of the more management consulting-y firms with some science power to differentiate themselves-- places like Cadmus could go bananas (assuming any of them could spare the downtime).
When it comes to big data, the challenge I see is on the front end and coming up with an intriguing, potential useful question. Too often, analysts get excited about building the model (and, believe me, I've been seduced by some sexy graphic visualizations too) without putting as much consideration into what they actually want to know.