We love data. Raise your hand if you do, too.

Photo by William White on Unsplash

I want you to close your eyes and imagine something. You are standing in downtown San Diego. The sun is shining down and you’re overlooking the Pacific Ocean harbor. To your left is the U.S.S. Midway, a symbol of the city’s status as a military power center. To your right is the airport and all the people who’ve come to vacation in America’s Finest City. Still further to your right, following the coastline north a bit, sits a biotech hub, one of the largest in the country, known for advances in medical research and development, a hotbed of innovation. These three things — military, tourism, and innovation — have fueled San Diego’s economy for decades.

But what’s really behind all these ships, people, and technology? What’s driving San Diego into the future? It’s what venture capitalist Bill Tai calls the fifth wave of technology. It is the power of data science.

Most of today’s tech companies are data science companies. Facebook. Uber. Airbnb. Amazon. Netflix. Sure, there’s a product or service somewhere in that transaction, but they are rooted in one thing — the ability to compile large amounts of data and use that data to innovate. And they have only just begun. Because, you see, we are just starting on this fifth wave, and some argue we have thirty years to go. Think about that for a moment. What is Facebook in thirty years? Is there even a Facebook in thirty years? In this wave of technology, many advances will be made, and some will fall behind.

And that, my friends, is where we come in. We are a group of people who share two loves: San Diego and Data Science. We believe in our city and we believe that data is the future, and we are working to connect the two. We are the Data Science Alliance.

Our Founder, Taner Halıcıoğlu, is a startup pioneer and practiced the art of data science before it had a name — leveraging data in concert with his skills as a software developer and systems engineer to help tech giants Cisco, LoudCloud and eBay scale their capacity to match their goals. As Facebook’s first employee, he knows where things are heading and he wants San Diego to take the lead. So, in 2018, with his support, the University of California, San Diego established the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI). HDSI is laying the groundwork for the scientific foundations of this emerging discipline, and working to develop new methods and infrastructure to train students, faculty and partners to use data science in ways that will allow them to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

To continue his effort, this year, he and a small group of top data scientists, and business luminaries launched the Data Science Alliance (DSA) — a startup nonprofit with a commitment to disrupt. This group includes Uber’s first data scientist, the leader of the financial team that developed financial models for Square, the head of UC San Diego’s Supercomputer Center, the former head of the City of San Diego’s data and analytics team, a lead inventor on three patents in the area of sensor networks and machine learning, a cognitive scientist turned rockstar attorney/founder/investor, and the former leader of successful startup communities in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

The Data Science Alliance has been working all year to build the foundation of our startup. We want to challenge how business is done and how our economy is structured. We want to shake things up. We want San Diego to become the city that champions data science, democratizes access to information and builds public trust through problem solving. And now, we invite you to join us on our journey. Our goal is simple — position San Diego as a leader in data science. To do this, we will work to bolster our local ecosystem by focusing on three key priorities:

Problem Solving — harness the power of data science for good, in the service of humanity:

  • Host data competitions to tackle problems that really matter;
  • Engage in long-term projects with social change organizations, using data science to transform their work and their sector.

Business Investment — encourage the proliferation of data science across industries:

  • Build a free Open Data Exchange with a diversity of data sets to use and share in support of the mission to advance Data Science;
  • Support existing and future data science startups;
  • Advise on successful integration of data science into existing businesses.

Talent Development — advance our local talent pool through attraction and retention:

  • Become the conduit between talent and industry to facilitate the growth of data related employment opportunities;
  • Increase diversity and inclusivity in data science by supporting and promoting diverse perspectives and identities.

Success in these areas will take the effort and commitment of more than our board and team. It will take a community:

We are seeking those who love data, who are passionate about uncovering the truth through information and are enthusiastic about shaping the future of San Diego. We are calling out to those of you who love to ask questions, who are full of curiosity and fueled by discovery; To those who simply want to be a part of something big. We invite you to join us:

Become a Member, and support this burgeoning community of data lovers;

Volunteer your time and skills, and learn from others along the way;

Share your data with us and let’s explore the power of data science.

We hope to connect with you soon.

No longer is San Diego a small beach town of sun-loving surfers. We have grown up and built a robust economy powered by military, tourism, and innovation. But as we look far ahead at what’s to come, we must recognize the driving force behind this wave of technology, and the next… data science. Join us as we embrace this reality and position San Diego as a leader in the field.

CEO of the Data Science Alliance. Working to advance San Diego’s data science ecosystem and revolutionize the way data is used across the globe.

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