Reviving the Data-Centric Areas of Houston and Florida

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Click to learn more about author Carie Lemack.

Never has nature done more to elevate the importance of data and Data Management, albeit as a result of the power of Mother Nature, because of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey (in Houston) and Hurricane Irma (in Florida).

Never has a city been so dependent on data, never has a state been so deeply affected by the closure of data centers that analyze data, never has this country been so dignified in its respect for the fallen and its help for the survivors of such devastation.

In this time of mourning, let also remember that the morning will come –– the need will arise, it already exists, for us to revive data-centric institutions like the Johnson Space Center and concepts like space-based research in general.

That rule applies to the residents of Houston as much as it does to the workers at Cape Kennedy, near the center of Florida’s Atlantic coast, because the economies of these respective areas cannot thrive – and their individual school districts will not survive – without a new birth of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In rebuilding “Space City” and restoring America’s “Space Coast,” we have an opportunity to advance the promise of the latter and protect the memory of the former.

We have the chance to preserve the namesake of a president whose pledge, in Houston, would give rise to many missions from Florida; whose successor’s name would posthumously grace the facilities, in Texas, where the crew of Apollo 11 would tell the engineers at Mission Control – and people throughout the world would see and hear – about a small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind.

This is not a matter of safeguarding a legacy: It is an issue of expanding education and strengthening the nation’s economy, since these centers need workers fluent in reviewing and translating data.

That means space-based research must be at the forefront of these rebuilding efforts, where we do more than repair the infrastructure of classrooms and libraries, of concourses and laboratories. We must repair school curricula to meet the challenges of today and the requirements of tomorrow, so we may continue to explore the heavens and send our experiments heavenward, where we can partner with the International Space Station to test and scrutinize data.

That data is relevant, now more than ever, because we need people who can convert so many ones and zeroes into prose; intelligible plans that explain where and when we should rebuild, free of guesswork or even graft, which is a plague unto itself, in times of such pressure; so we can rebuild with a better approach toward zoning; so we can rebuild with a better layout for first responders, where data enables them to pinpoint crises before they happen.

It should not take two hurricanes to reveal the urgency of this situation, though this is the situation we face.

With a renewed sense of purpose, and with a revitalized supply of energy, we can make data the priority it should be; the priority it must be, so the United States may maintain its competitive advantage in a competitive world, where the competition to win the Space Race is more than a subject of national pride –– it is a symbol of progress and scientific discovery.

Let us choose to emphasize the value of data.

Let us choose to highlight the importance of data.

Let us choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

We choose data, so we may not experience defeat.

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