Daniel Castro recently won the Economist-InnoCentive Healthcare Information Economy Challenge. This Challenge was part of the Economist Challenge Series and as the winner, Daniel was invited to present his solution at the Economist Ideas Economy Information event, which took place in Santa Clara in June of 2011. Daniel's winning solution can be viewed here.
I’m a senior analyst at a Washington, DC-based think tank where I work on a variety of policy issues related to information technology. Generally, I look at how different types of public policy can help spur the adoption and use of technology that help improve economic productivity and quality of life. My key focus is on information policy, such as privacy and security, and I am especially interested in how policymakers can help spur more innovation through the use of data.
Before beginning my career at the think tank, I worked at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) where I audited information security controls at various government agencies. Working in government gave me a great opportunity to see how government policies are implemented firsthand, an experience which is invaluable in my current job. My academic background is fairly diverse: I received a B.S. in Foreign Service at Georgetown University before switching gears and obtaining an M.S. in information security from Carnegie Mellon University. I have found that having both strong technical expertise and a background in the liberal arts has given me many opportunities to pursue the projects that most interest me.
I’ve been interested in health information technology policy issues for many years, and I was pleased to see the Economist and InnoCentive host a Challenge about how to create a robust health information economy. This is an issue I have been studying for a while and I knew exactly what I wanted to write for this Challenge. I’ve learned that part of the reason InnoCentive’s research model works so well is that with these Challenges they are able to find the people who have been working on these problems already. This was certainly the case for me.
I’m a big fan of the crowdsourcing model which creates a level playing field so that amateurs and professionals alike compete solely on the basis of merit. I was first exposed to this model of work when I had our organization’s logo created using a crowdsourced community of graphic designers. Not only was I impressed with the results, but I was blown away by the sheer amount of creativity generated by working with a community rather than a single individual. Moreover, I knew that the final result would be judged based on its merits alone and not arbitrary qualifications which may or may not have any bearing on my specific project.
I saw something similar with InnoCentive. InnoCentive is a great platform for both organizations looking for ideas and individuals who want to get their ideas in front of others. I had not worked on a Challenge before, but I would definitely be interested in entering again if the right Challenge stoked my interest. I almost didn’t enter because I thought “what’s the point?” but I am very glad I did. I would definitely encourage others who see a Challenge that interests them to take that leap of faith and submit your ideas.