Status Report

NASA Ames CIO Blog: Chris Kemp: Lets Start A Conversation About NASA’s Future On The Web

By SpaceRef Editor
March 25, 2009
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NASA Ames CIO Blog: Chris Kemp: Lets Start A Conversation About NASA’s Future On The Web

Inspired by President Obama’s recent call to Bring Government into the 21st Century:

Bring Government into the 21st Century: Use technology to reform government and improve the exchange of information between the federal government and citizens while ensuring the security of our networks. Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure the safety of our networks and lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.

…and his memorandum stating his objectives for Transparency and Open Government:

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. 

…I figured it was time to start a new blog and a conversation about NASA’s future on the Web.

Let me start with a brief introduction of myself. I am the Chief Information Officer at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Being the CIO of a NASA field center means I am responsible for most of the IT infrastructure (networks, datacenters, systems, etc.) here at NASA Ames, and several NASA-wide services, including the NASA Security Operations Center. Before becoming CIO in 2007, I lead the strategic business development office at Ames where we forged several innovative new partnerships for the Agency (for example with Google, which made it to the news here and there). Prior to joining NASA, I helped create a number of cool businesses including and Escapia. I am 31 years old, and am the youngest member of the Senior Executive Service.

What do I plan to talk about? 

There are a wide variety of topics and projects that in my role of CIO of NASA’s field center in Silicon Valley I am passionate about. Given my background as a web entrepreneur, it should come as no surprise that these revolve to a large extent around the web. A long time interest of mine has been how can we weave NASA’s data into the fabric of the web, and what that will mean for the future of space exploration. What I like to do here on this blog is share with you an inside perspective of our space agency anno 2009 as NASA Ames CIO and talk about some of my thoughts and ideas on how NASA can align itself with the evolution of the web so as to be prepared and take full advantage of its transformative power moving forward (or as Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt puts it: “Don’t fight the Internet“).

I will talk about NASA as an agency with its own set of challenges and opportunities. I will talk about the “cloud”, and how NASA is pioneering Federal Cloud Services. I will talk about tools. Like this blogging webapp that powers and that I use to write these blog posts online.

I will talk about the web as a platform… and how NASA will use this platform to share our data with the world.

I will talk about Silicon Valley… about new partnerships that we are forging here. I’ll give you my thoughts on how we are teaming up with some of the larger companies here in the Valley to syndicate one of NASA’s greatest resources, our scientific data and our out-of-this-world images and videos. I’ll talk about government policy, how it effects NASA, and discuss ways NASA as an agency can become more transparent by adopting new policies or revising existing ones.

I will talk about NASA Ames because there are a lot of great developments going on here, some of which we are executing as pilot projects for the entire Agency, and perhaps soon the entire Government.

Many interesting developments are going on all around the world, in many different disciplines, and it is by leveraging and correlating these at NASA that we will succeed in weaving NASA and space into the web and securing space and NASA as an instrinsic part of humankind’s scientific and cultural exploration of the 21st century. A quick example in case here: While NASA is actively engaged in testing the first deep space communications network modeled on the Internet, Google’s Chief Technology Advocate Michael T. Jones at the recent AGU meeting in San Francisco advocates new models for sharing scientific data.

Moving forward, as more of us join the conversation here on, I can see a platform emerge where our relationship with the American public, our (potential) global audience of 1 billion connected people and counting, and our constituencies (scientists, engineers, enthusiasts) will become a collaborative one.

My vision for NASA’s future on the web is that of an open platform. A platform to share and host data, a platform that will leverage our data in new ways, for developers around the world to tap into our datasets, for the public to learn about NASA, and for scientists to collaborate. By opening this personal voice, I look forward to contribute my enthusiasm to this endeavour.

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— Chris C. Kemp

SpaceRef staff editor.