(US & Canada) | We Aim to Bring Everybody Together and Empower Capabilities — GovSmart CTO and AFCEA CeVA VP of Industry Affairs

Seth Berl CTO of GovSmart and VP of Industry Affairs at AFCEA CeVA, speaks with Katya Mijatovic, Principal Data Scientist at Data Society and CDO Magazine Editorial Board Member, about his expectations and plans for the summit, a highlight from his presentation, how the summit came together, and how it factors into the larger AFCEA vision.

Mijatovic interviewed Berl on the sidelines of the recently conducted AFCEA CeVA Data Centric Summit.

Berl expresses immense satisfaction with the conference, highlighting its outstanding speakers comprising data professionals, Chief Data Officers from the federal government, and representatives from industry and academia. He emphasizes the event's success in attracting high-caliber participants and speakers, aiming for continued growth and recognition of the value of data collaboration.

Further Berl notes the conference's comprehensive coverage of topics including emerging technologies, enterprise data strategy, edge computing, data generation, hybrid cloud architecture, and application development. He expressed a desire for future conferences to include a stronger presence of application developers to enrich discussions further.

Sharing a key take away from his presentation, Berl emphasizes the importance of understanding the enterprise data strategy within a parent organization, particularly within the federal government and its component levels. He highlights that federal agencies often comprise various subcomponents with diverse missions. For instance, the Department of Homeland Security includes ICE, Customs and Border Patrol, and FEMA, each with distinct objectives.

Berl underscores the necessity of establishing a data landscape supported by governance, compliance, and risk management. Additionally, he stresses the significance of ensuring appropriate access to data across both the parent organization and its component agencies. 

When asked which presentation sparked the most interest for him, Berl notes the variety of topics covered and the high quality of all the speakers. He highlights specific topics such as discussions on edge to quarter cloud and the concept of an intelligent data fabric, as well as insights into human resources management and data collection at the tactical edge.

Berl particularly mentions Snehal Antani's keynote on cybersecurity penetration tests conducted within fully autonomous systems using artificial intelligence. He also commended other speakers like Bill Burnham and Col. Chris Saling, emphasizing the overall excellence of the speakers, the engaging content, and audience participation.

Responding to Mijatovic’s question about what brought the summit together, Berl reveals that the event, initially planned as a small lunch-and-learn, evolved into a significant gathering due to the shared mission among the speakers, many of whom Berl had professional relationships with and considered friends.

According to Berl, the driving force behind the event was the desire to address data challenges across various government sectors. Recognizing the commonality of these challenges, Berl emphasized the potential for collaboration and solution-sharing by bringing stakeholders together in one room.

The positive response to this collaborative initiative was overwhelming, with speakers, attendees, and vendors eager to participate. Everyone's willingness to engage underscored a shared commitment to supporting the federal government's data initiatives, says Berl. 

In conclusion, he adds that the summit plays right into AFCEA's mission of collaboration between government, industry, and academia. Since it is a nonprofit, the ultimate goal is to bring everybody together, have discussions, and empower capabilities.

CDO Magazine appreciates Seth Berl for sharing his insights with our global community.

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