The Alliance will be a catalyst for transdisciplinary dialogue and research on evolving issues related to the role of information in our lives. By identifying shared challenges and encouraging innovative solutions, the Alliance seeks to facilitate a future in which information in all its forms can be an effective resource for everyone.

Priorities for the
Future of Information

Latest News

FIA receives support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation

MT @MDEnvironment: The story of @DataBay_MD finalist: My Bay. This innovative idea could also #ReclaimtheBay: #FIAumd (via @adruin)

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The Future of Information Alliance @ the University of Maryland

DataBay: "Reclaim the Bay"
Innovation Challenge

Governor's Cup Awarded

Congratulations to Team BayBucks on winning the Governor's Cup! Programmers, scientists, civic hackers and students created data-driven applications to increase public engagement and aid in Chesapeake Bay restoration at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on August 1-3, 2014. Four finalist teams then competed for the Governor's Cup at the State House on August 27.

View Team Projects »
Watch Finalist Team Videos »
Read Baltimore Sun Article »

Initiated by Governor O'Malley, organized by the Future of Information Alliance, hosted by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

We Remember Tim Schaffer

Tim was a FIA Partner and the Director of Technology and Sustainability at the Barrie School. Read More »

Also read more from the Barrie School.


Congratulations to the FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant Competition seed grant teams! The four interdisciplinary teams of FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant Fellows and one team of FIA-Seed Grant Honorees included 22 students and six faculty mentors from 9 UMD colleges and schools!

See the award-winning teams here »
More Info »
Seed Grant FAQ »

The Future of the Past

Highlights from a Week-Long Exploration Organized by the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland
Dec. 2-6, 2013

Full list of speakers - see below*; video produced by Jayne Gould

Even in the midst of an information explosion, the information treasures that make up vast parts of our cultural heritage are in danger of being lost, forgotten, or neglected. What new technologies can be harnessed to help us better access, understand and use the past? With support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and the University of Maryland, the Future of Information Alliance and its partners welcome “Future-ists” who are on the cutting edge of exploring these issues, ranging from innovative uses of satellites and 3D imaging, to confronting the challenges of archiving social movements.

The week included the following programs:

Engaging with History:
Keeping the Stories Alive and Lively

As stewards of our cultural heritage in an era of declining resources, how can we best keep the past preserved and alive for future generations? This FIA event hosted by the National Park Service at Fort McHenry included a discussion about the value of both place-based learning and virtual tools for engaging students and their teachers with history. The presenters have backgrounds in history, K-12 education, national parks as sites for learning, and Internet-based teaching and research.

Lost and Found: Exploration in the Digital Age

A live WAMU 88.5 broadcast of the Kojo Nnamdi Show was held at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium. The first hour focused on ways that modern-day explorers can carry out archaeology from space, from the depths of the ocean, and by using ground-penetrating high-tech tools. In the second hour, thought leaders from the Smithsonian Institution discussed the future of museums and the power of new digital tools to understand and investigate the past.

The Future of the Digital Present: Archiving the Ephemera of the Information Age

The Newseum hosted a program exploring the unparalleled challenges associated with the rapid expansion of content across all forms of media. Preservation and management of born-digital and other materials faces an array of obstacles - technical, financial, legal, and cultural - that were discussed by innovators working on searchable audio, the evolution of web search, and the archiving of children’s television and social movements.

The Future of the Past: Toward an Agenda for Research and Action: A Discussion with FIA Partners

This closing event brought together all of our FIA partners to reflect on the week’s events. They discussed with each other and with the audience ways of enhancing the “future of the past” through interdisciplinary research and action. Ten FIA partner representatives shared the stage with Dan Russell, Google’s “director of user happiness,” and other participants from the week’s programs.

*Speaking in the highlights video (in order of first appearance), are:

  • Kojo Nnamdi, host of the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5
  • Amy Rosenkrans, Director of Humanities at Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Fred Hiebert, archaeologist, explorer and National Geographic Fellow
  • Sarah Parcak, founding director, University of Alabama Laboratory for Global Observation
  • Nick Pyenson, curator, Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History
  • Günter Waibel, director, Smithsonian Institution’s Digitization Program Office
  • G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
  • Paul Sparrow, Senior Vice President for Broadcasting and New Media, the Newseum
  • Howard Besser, Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University
  • Daniel Russell, Google’s “director of user happiness”
  • Excerpt from “54,” Youth Ambassador Program of the National Park Service (full video at