November 18, 2016 at 2:00 PM ET by Austin Brown

The White House is hosting its first-ever Electric Vehicle Datathon, and nominations for participation are now open. Don’t miss your chance to join the discussion!

The White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy will convene its first-ever Electric Vehicle (EV) Datathon on November 29. This event, held in partnership with the Department of Energy and four of its National Laboratories will bring together EV experts, charging-station providers, cities and states, automakers, and the software-development and data-analysis communities. This group will explore best practices on how data can inform efforts to deploy EVs and charging stations and how data collection and curation can serve the growing EV community.

President Obama tours the Chevy Bolt.
President Barack Obama talks with Patrick Foley, Bolt EV Specialist, left, and Dan Ammann, President of GM, right, while sitting in the driver’s seat of the Chevy Bolt during a tour of the 2016 North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Mich., Jan. 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Progress on EVs:
Electric vehicles are emerging as a technology that can help address many modern transportation challenges and are more affordable and better performing that ever before. Nearly thirty plug-in vehicle models are now available from more than a dozen manufacturers, giving vehicle buyers more choices of manufacturer, size, capabilities, and appearance. EVs dramatically lower overall emissions of harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases. They use no petroleum, allowing owners to skip the gas station, save money, and reduce their vulnerability to volatile oil prices.

This progress on EVs is no accident, thanks in part to sustained investment in Federal research and development through the Department of Energy and by automakers in new vehicle models with more than 20 models of plug-in electric vehicles now available, up from only one in 2008. The deployment of EVs has been supported by national and local efforts to build out public-charging infrastructure. There are now more than 40,000 publically accessible charging stations, giving EV owners more confidence in the range of their vehicles. An ever-increasing number of Americans have access to charging at work; more than 250 employers have joined the DOE’s workplace charging challenge, providing thousands of stations for employee use.

The emerging field of data science is already creating widespread benefits in transportation such as real-time traffic alerts, crowd-sourced information on road conditions, digital citizen feedback on infrastructure through 311 systems, and a wide array of new “smart cities” technologies. EVs are benefiting from this improvement in data, computing, and analytics. Websites like make it easy for a potential buyer to see how much they would save with different models; charging station locators such as DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center show drivers in need of a charge where their nearest stations are; policy tools like the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency help prospective buyers identify incentives; and the Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Score helps communities cut red tape and improve driver experiences.

Despite the progress in EVs and in data to support their deployment, more work in needed to continue the conversation among those who are generating and curating new EV data and those who could put this data to good use. The datathon on November 29 seeks to further this conversation by convening experts in EVs, data science, and software development to review currently available data, identify opportunities for improvement, and discuss new datasets and approaches that can enable EVs going forward. Topics of conversation include: what datasets could emerge from new efforts such as the Department of Transportation’s Alternative Fuel Corridors; what new data do local planners need as they work to make their communities EV ready; and what new information can be revealed by “mashing up” diverse available datasets?

How to get involved:
Due to space constraints, attendance is invitation only. You can nominate yourself or someone else, who would be an excellent contributor to the discussion or suggest or submit a data set for use by the research community. Email the datathon team at: OECC@WHO.EOP.GOV.

Austin Brown is Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Transportation for the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Candace Vahlsing is a Senior Policy Advisor for Energy and Climate Change