Florence Hudson, Executive Director of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub joins Green.org to share her vision for a sustainable future.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I was trained as an aerospace and mechanical engineer at Princeton University, including studies in energy and the environment. I worked at NASA on future missions around Jupiter and at Grumman Aerospace on the space shuttle program, US Navy aircraft, and solar power satellites during my college internships as a Grumman Aerospace Scholar. After graduating from Princeton, I decided to pursue a career in information technology as it seemed to me that computers would run the world some day. I accepted a job at Hewlett Packard then joined IBM where I worked for 33 years in various roles including VP of strategy and marketing and Chief Technology Officer. One of my roles was as the Energy and Environment Executive in Corporate HQ.
My 2012 TEDxTalk on Sustainability on a Smarter Planet provides insight on my thoughts regarding smarter cities, buildings, grids, energy, transportation and water management to build a smarter and more sustainable environment and planet. I also earned Executive Education certificates from Harvard Business School and Columbia University in strategy, finance and accounting. After IBM, I was recruited to be Senior VP and Chief Innovation Officer at a research and education network called Internet2. After that I worked at Indiana University funded by a National Science Foundation grant, leading the cybersecurity research transition to practice program.
Now I am Executive Director of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University, including leading the COVID Information Commons and founding the National Student Data Corps where we virtually teach over 3,400 students data science around the globe, all supported by over $8M in U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. I am also founder and CEO of FDHint, LLC consulting in advanced technologies and diversity and inclusion. (https://fdhint.com/about) I speak widely on advanced technologies including big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, data science, quantum technologies, STEM education, energy and environment, smart cities, cybersecurity, connected healthcare, internet of things (IoT), diversity and inclusion. (https://fdhint.com/speaking) I lead a global IEEE working group developing a standard for clinical IoT and TIPPSS – Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety and Security. I am passionate about enabling the next generation of leaders and students to develop and leverage advanced technologies, entwined with the wisdom from the past, to build innovations for the future.
What would you do with $1 Billion dollars?
I would further my passion projects including bringing STEM and data science education to students around the world, and reducing risk in connected healthcare and smarter city and transportation and grid systems to protect the humans. To bring STEM and data science education to students around the world, we would grow the National Student Data Corps which I founded and has grown to over 3,400 students around the world who use our free open online data science education, mentoring and professional development, so they can have valuable careers and use data for good. With the plethora of data being created and captured around the world, and increasingly valuable data science techniques to gain insights from the data, there is alot of good we could do. Applications included cancer research, COVID and pandemic research, precision medicine, smarter cities solutions, climate and environmental analysis and recommendations, and more. To reduce the risk in connected systems including internet of things (IoT) enabled healthcare systems and smarter cities, we would develop standards and advanced technologies to improve trust, identity, privacy, protection, safety and security of data, devices, and infrastructure to better serve our humans, cities, countries, environment, animals and humanity.
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
Sustainability is such an important topic today as the earth is getting older, resources have been depleted, the cumulative impact of green house gases including natural and man made has increased, and the result includes major storms, flooding and droughts, which are killing people and animals and devastating land and homes. These extremes need to be mitigated to keep humanity safer into the future. We need this planet for a very long time, and we have to keep it in good condition.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I work in multiple industries. In academia, in 10 years I think there will be a more distributed educational environment leveraging in person and virtual learning environments, including leverage of technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and extended reality to allow us to better learn from the past and innovate in the future. I also hope that the learning will be available to all ages based on capability and passion, and not be limited to age requirements. We see high school students who win undergraduate level competitions while they are taking college courses, and those are our leaders of tomorrow.
In aerospace, I envision that we will find safer ways to exist on the Earth’s Moon and Mars to allow colonization. I think the leverage of fuel sources such as hydrogen will improve so there can be more abundance of fuel to get to moons and planets and return home more efficiently. I think the commercial and federal space programs will coexist and enable more space travel together. In healthcare, I expect more pandemics, and the need to better manage them.
I also expect increased capabilities for precision medicine, leveraging technology data about the human, the environment, their family history, their genome and exposome, and new medications and treatments to improve care. I expect living to be 100 years old will be more common. I hope we find better treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, and that physical treatments such as hip replacement and spinal surgery will be less invasive and less barbaric. In energy and the environment, I hope we come up with better energy storage models that are more efficient and effective to allow us to capture renewable energy and use it over time. I expect there will be a more connected energy generation and distribution system including renewables and distributed generation and energy sharing.
We need to have an increasingly more secure model for all this connectivity as well to protect the humans and infrastructure. With the increasingly connected world we live in leveraging Internet of Things and other technologies, I envision that the TIPPSS standards I am leading with IEEE will improve Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety and Security for connected healthcare, connected and autonomous vehicles, smarter cities, smart grids, and more.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
The average person can be diligent in not overusing water, energy, lighting, fuel and other natural resources. They can reduce litter and polluting our water and air.