Mathematician D.J. Patil, the first chief data scientist for the US Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama, declared that city governments need the presence of data science champions in order to make smarter, more informed policy decisions.

Here is an excerpt from Tim Feran’s article in The Columbus Dispatch:

Patil was brought to Ohio by the Columbus Collaboratory to discuss big data’s future in Ohio. In the roundtable discussion, Patil said that, “in the ‘Star Trek’ model, Spock is always on the bridge” when a big decision was made. His “Spock” references the presence of pure, unbiased information.

“But how many times were there meetings in the White House and there was no Spock on the bridge?” He says that has to change. Patil has become a high-profile name for leading the effort to make the federal government a data-driven enterprise.


“Everyone is racing to some degree to address the ‘sexy’ problems,” Patil said, such as terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. But when he sent the brightest minds in his field to the Pentagon to find areas in which data science could be applied well, “all the most boring problems were the ones that really needed data solutions. The lesson is, if we can ask what the most boring problems are — that’s where we’ll get the biggest lift.”