The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and five other Federal government agencies have announced creation of a prototype version of an integrated data and knowledge infrastructure program that they say will form the basis of a far-reaching “open knowledge network.”

The new effort – titled Prototype Open Knowledge Network (Proto-OKN) – is a new $20 million initiative that will create a new prototype network open to the public and functioning as a data repository.

“NSF is delighted to advance the vision of an open network that will harness the vast amounts of data generated in every sphere of life,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

“The open knowledge network will transform the nation’s ability to unlock insights from data and transform these data into useful, actionable information and knowledge crucial to address challenges for a more efficient and equitable future,” he said.

The Proto-OKN is part of an investment being made through NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Track A: Open Knowledge Networks, that helps advance the creation of projects in 150 different subject matters.

The program will specifically support research of three program themes:

  • Proto-OKN Use Cases: Projects in this category will develop a knowledge graph or “node” to provide data-centric solutions to various societal challenges like equity, social care, justice, climate change, disaster management, health communications, supply chains, and financial risk analysis.
  • Proto-OKN Fabric: Projects in this category will develop and deploy the necessary technologies to provide “interconnecting fabric” to link the knowledge graphs developed by Theme 1 teams; and
  • Proto-OKN Education and Public Engagement: One awardee will create educational materials and tools for people or organizations interested in engaging with the Proto-OKN.

Along with NSF, contributors to the project include NASA, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.