A Big Year for Innovation: What technology Does for USAID

Ann Mei Chang is the Executive Director of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID (U.S. Agency for Internal Development). This special sector of USAID was created last April to heighten awareness toward the application of science and technology for a greater impact in helping end extreme poverty worldwide. There are 9 areas of focus for this mission:

  1. Food security & nutrition modernizing food assistance
  2. Ending preventable child & maternal deaths
  3. Energy access
  4. Water solutions
  5. Child literacy
  6. Financial inclusion
  7. Human rights
  8. Participation & accountability
  9. Humanitarian response

These areas are of top priority to the new lab and can be supplemented by technology. The Center for Data Analysis & Research is composed of team members who are responsible for gathering and analyzing the data from said projects being conducted by USAID. With so much hype surrounding data and analysis now there are many new technology companies designing software and platforms to help extract knowledge from your data.

ChalkLabs has been involved in helping companies innovate with specialized knowledge discovery solutions for years. We provide the expertise and speed of the leading competitors such as SAS, Oracle, and SAP minus the typical large company cost. Featuring true in-memory computing, Pushgraph PaaS exceeds the standard speed and scalability of the biggest names on the market. Monitor millions of real-time events to discover valuable and actionable insights. Find out exactly where funding is being wasted and prevent duplication in programming, research priorities, et. al. Former and current ChalkLabs clients include National Institute of Health, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and even the USDA.

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Gartner & Challenges in Big Data

We all know about the Big Data “revolution” by now. There are vast benefits when using Big Data analytics tools for insight, but with all major technology breakthroughs there will always be challenges to overcome. The following points were found in a recent article by Gartner.com and the information is very helpful. Gartner, “the world’s leading information and technology research and advisory company”, goes over the challenges that companies and individuals are now facing in the world of knowledge discovery, aka Big Data. Information strategy, data analysis, and enterprise information management are all the topics covered that one must address to overcome such hurdles in I.T.

With more than half of the U.S. now using the Cloud, the number of users for a given Cloud platform and the opinions of the professionals ranking said institutions give great insight into the value of a given solution. Amazon Web Services (AWS), a Cloud services provider, meets 92% of the requirements for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) standards and 100% in other areas like security. AWS is the leader in cloud IaaS. As an AWS technology partner, ChalkLabs offers services for the Cloud including the GovCloud for the public sector. Between shifting data to the cloud and turning Big Data into knowledge, companies have their hands full. ChalkLabs specialized and professional team of knowledge discovery experts are here to help you through it all, every step of the way.


Visit the ChalkLabs website to view our solutions for knowledge discovery and Cloud as well as consultation.

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Big Data & a Big Impact on Govt

By now you may have heard of the Big Data “revolution” that is taking many industries by storm. What you may not realize is how much there is to gain by utilizing information extracted from Big Data to help guide and improve the future of various companies and organizations, such as those within our government.

A great example of an organization which could benefit from Big Data analytics, USAID has its hands full trying to feed the world and provide new and untapped resources to those who live in some of the most difficult places in the world. Right now USAID is working on meeting some very important world goals and every dollar of funding needs to be guided to the right place to make the largest impact. USAID works hard to bring markets for sale of goods and services to those who cannot reach them. This is important work and the money that goes into it affects millions of people all over the globe.

In the 2014 report titled Big Data Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values,  “properly implemented, Big Data will become a historic driver of progress, helping our nation perpetuate the civic and economic dynamism that has long been its hallmark.”

Photo credit- Wired.com and NIST.gov

Photo credit- Wired.com and NIST.gov

So how exactly can we take big benefits from Big Data?

Identifying and removing duplicated projects for large organizations is one of the ways that Pushgraph can help your business save time and money. Uncovering redundant or out-dated business operations that can be closed or improved is another. Visual analytics and predictive analysis  provide proactive insight into future decision-making. Some government agencies, such as the NIH, USDA, and USAID, are already gaining knowledge and insight by utilizing Big Data. One of these organizations achieved 2083% ROI by using Pushgraph PaaS. With better metrics than all of the leading competition, an easy-to-use interface, and fast deployment time, Pushgraph can save your large organization lots of time (i.e. money).

Pushgraph PaaS is designed to process large amounts of structured or unstructured data at speeds which far surpass that of the some of our competitors (e.g. SAS, SAP, Oracle). ChalkLabs professionals build your applications on this incredible platform by analyzing and modeling your existing workflows. We are highly experienced in consulting, data management, web development, and are dedicated to ensuring you get the most ROI on your investment. Why wait until another year passes?

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(source – http://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/economic-growth-and-trade)




Design Success with Pinpoint

Have you ever faced a situation where you attempted to solve a problem but felt the need for a fresh new set of eyes to view the situation in a different light?

Pinpoint can be that fresh set of eyes for you to discover new and improved solutions to your business problems.

This dedicated and professional team located in Portland, OR, was founded in 2005 but already helps many large clients such as Cisco, Nike, and Intel, et. al.

Being experts in design and strategy primarily, Pinpoint can see solutions to your problems that you may have never considered.

Pinpoint takes your business seriously and studies your operations, techniques, and systems inside and out to know your company and customers while strategically finding the answers to your most complicated questions before moving you forward. Journey Mapping is just one such useful service provided.

Pinpoint will research new markets and areas of potential growth to let you know how to best proceed with your business endeavors. Maximizing efficiency and profits are two of the great benefits to using Pinpoint as a business partner.

On another note, have you ever sat down and thought about what it may be like to be one of your own customers? Pinpoint can walk you through the customer’s journey with an orthogonal view of your company.

Overall I think most of us know that a business strategy is just as important as the products or services that you are selling. Let the professionals at Pinpoint show you the way.


Compute. Compete. Capitalize.

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USAID is “Feeding the Future”

The U.S. has been a leader in global aid efforts and reform initiatives for decades now.

By 2050 there will be about 9 billion mouths to feed which means we have to double our current food production to compensate.


After the extreme increase in food costs in 2007-2008, President Obama decided to take action to begin helping the 800 million people who suffer from hunger.

Since the launch of Feeding the Future Initiative backed by the government in 2010, the impact of the educational efforts and time spent changing lives by U.S organizations has shown substantial benefits in so many countries.

Now, USAID faces the never-ending challenge of helping to reduce the amount of people who have to go to bed hungry every night as well as the number of children facing malnutrition.

The primary problem? World hunger. The solution? Access to adequate farming resources and knowledge of better crop-growing practices and the development of small and mid-sized agriculture businesses worldwide.

USDA is also helping USAID in the allocation of resources to those in need. The USDA has helped train more than 145,000 farmers and small to mid-sized food producers on new and improved methods of farming and food safety practices.

Thanks to Feed the Future Initiative, we now see countries like Zambia, Ethiopia, Honduras, and Tanzania (to name a few),  producing up to 32% more crops to feed their people.

ChalkLabs currently offers solutions to farmers in need of technology to track weather information, improve crop yield, and show where they are wasting resources among many other benefits within the overall knowledge of your business endeavors.

If you would like to see all of the recent details from the recent year on the USAID website, please visit the link below.

Feed the Future Fact Sheet


ChalkLabs Website

Turn Big Data into Big ROI – Advantages of Pushgraph PaaS

Now that Cloud storage has been declared mainstream, some industries are capitalizing on Big Data technologies. A natural next step is to turn “Big Data” into “Big ROI”. One difficulty of this transition is to choose the tool that will deliver fast and flexible services to be easily utilized by your employees. Welcome to Pushgraph.

Active benefits of Pushgraph include: (a) visual and predictive analytics, (b) highly compacted semantic search capability, and (c) true in-memory computing – no SSD disk necessary.

Pushgraph PaaS solution also matches or exceeds the performance of larger and more costly Big Data platforms such as SAP’s HANA and Oracle’s TimesTen platforms.

Pushgraph customers range from government agencies to universities to medical research organizations, et. al. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the USDA are two current clients using Pushgraph to save large amounts of time and money.

One Return on Investment (ROI) estimate for Pushgraph by a public sector customer for a common type of data request between public sector organizations was 2083%. The time savings for using Pushgraph instead of existing tools for each type of this request was 7 hours. Another ROI estimate for Pushgraph regarding identification of potentially overlapping research projects will result in a potential annual cost savings of $240,000.”

Security is also a big concern among Big Data customers today. Pushgraph complies with many government and industry standards such as: 1) PCI Level 1, 2) Fips 140-2, 3) ITAR, 4) ISO 27001, 5) SSAE 16/32, 6) MPAA aligned.

The next generation of intelligent computing is here and at your fingertips. Visit ChalkLabs.com for Pushgraph benchmarks and metrics, our major clients, and a free live demonstration.

Below is a link to the performance and security data for Pushgraph –  http://bit.ly/1tNqmWd


Benefits of Cloud-Computing Adoption by Government Agencies

Data within private networks will soon be a thing of the past for United States Government agencies. Cloud adoption is sweeping the nation as the old world of data storage seems to dissipate. The government Cloud-Computing Technology Road Map outlines the policies in place that will hopefully accelerate Cloud usage among the many sectors of our government.

Photo credit- Wired.com and NIST.gov

Photo credit – Cloudtimes.org

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is in full support of the outline of “secure and effective adoption of the Cloud-Computing model to reduce costs and improve services,” as quoted off of their website.

Suggestions for policies back in November 2011 were provided by folks from hundreds of organizations and stake holders as well as private experts and CIO’s.

Imagine the flexibility that an estimated seven percent off of the annual I.T. budget will provide the government as a result of Cloud migration from on-premise systems.

Accountability, documentation, better decision-making based on fact, protection of the public’s rights, and improvement in operations are all among the benefits seen with Cloud adoption. Savings and efficiency are obvious and well-known up-sides to using the Cloud as well. Visions of triggering innovation in the I.T. sector of the government are in the sights of leaders as they embark upon a brand new age of technology.

So how might these benefits be obtained? Amazon Web Services is a well-known provider of GovCloud services which adhere to FedRAMP standards and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). As an AWS gold member, ChalkLabs can host applications in a secure and reliable Cloud provider. Yet data within a Cloud is useless without a platform such as Pushgraph to analyze and visualize the information at hand. Data can then transform into powerful predictive insights, competitive advantages and substantial savings.  Visit ChalkLabs.com to see who already has a competitive edge via Cloud services and Pushgraph PaaS.


ChalkLabs Awarded one of “20 Most Powerful Big Data Solution Providers”

ChalkLabs was recently named one of “20 Most Powerful Big Data Solution Providers” by CIOStory.com.

Discover how ChalkLabs Big Data Platform Pushgraph is saving government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and disease research organizations time and money while increasing ROI.

If you would like to download the complete copy of CIO Story Big Data Special 2014, feel free to share the link below.


How can we make our City Smarter?

Technology continues to fuel population growth with new applications targeting Big Data analytics and data mining, which are opening up a whole new world for us. Transportation, health and safety, and budget efficiency can all be vastly improved by applying sensor technology and real-time tracking devices to real life objects or events.image

Apps like GasBuddy, FitBit, and ParkSight 2.0 are already initiating changes to society. The Streetlines company made the Park Sight 2.0 app that can show driver where the nearest open parking spot is, saving them time and gasoline expenditures. In most cities parking is near the top of the list of highest revenues. Locating seats on a nearby bus, searching for safe biking routes, and knowing what charities are in need of the items you were about to toss out could be huge factors in changing the way our cities operate. Portland is a good example of a city which is benefiting from adopting the use of bike-friendly apps. There are vast benefits in providing our citizens with knowledge of changes we could make to help our city be a smart one. How many fewer people might be injured while biking? If you knew you could save money on gas by finding a ride share service or a safe biking route by using an app on your iPhone would you ditch your gas-guzzling F-150 for a 10 speed and a helmet?

Transportation is a large part of our economic structure and with improvements we can make everyone’s lives easier, safer and more efficient.

(newcitiesfoundation.org) (mashable.com)(Photo credit: University of Michigan Health System)




Proposed Medical School for Spokane

As I am composing this article right now there are 210,000 residents living in Spokane, Washington. About 20% of those people are healthcare workers. Within the next five years, another 20% of those healthcare workers plan to retire from the workforce altogether. The baby-boomers of Spokane make up 33% of our population to this day and are growing closer to needing more care with each year. This trend has sparked the largest need for healthcare workers in history for us. Luckily for Spokane there is a plan of action in place.

The WSU board of regents has approved the pursuit of building a fully accredited medical school right here in Spokane. Consultation from MGT America showed that we already have most of the resources needed to provide an excellent learning experience for the medical students of the future. At $47 million per year to build and run the new school, many think we will be coming out ahead in the long run. With a doctor to citizen ratio of 1 to 1,000 we don’t really have a choice but to prepare for an even greater shortage in the future if nothing is done today. Only 15% of Washington’s medical students are enrolling in state and it has nothing to do with that being their preference. With only 135 spots open to future medical students and 3,200 applicants, things can get tricky. At UW there are approximately 100 spots open each year (for the past 40 years) for those who come from Eastern Washington. That number has yet to increase, despite the increase in our population.

With four large hospitals and even more specialty clinics around town, there appears to be plenty of space for third and fourth year medical students to get on the job training opportunities in many different areas of practice. Studies show we need to be training four times the number of students that we are right now to compensate for the shortages.The Medical School will provide a great solution to some of these problems. The Health Sciences building in Spokane is complimented by a world-class research institution and a unique sleep performance research center. A briefing of this new project and other features of the current campus are listed on the WSU website shown below.