Open data mash-ups for government

Bill St. Arnaud has started a new blog on Next Generation Democracy.

One of the first entries deals with open data mash-ups in government.

The articles mentions a new white paper by W. David Stephenson, presented here with many examples of open data mash-ups, some of which are covered in our Politics section of our wiki as well.

Quoting Stephenson:

My argument is that government can transform itself both internally and externally, improving performance, lowering costs, and building public support and involvement, through a combination of:

* automated (preferably, real-time) data feeds, at first behind the firewall, and then externally as well, in a variety of formats such as RSS and KML

* easy access for both employees and (again, eventually) the public, to

The growing number of easy-to-use Web 2.0 data visualization tools that allow taking data that may be hard to understand in tabular form and instead turn it into eye-catching and informative visualizations — plus Web 2.0 tools such as tags, topic hubs, and threaded discussions that encourage sharing the data and insights — and increase the chance of “wisdom of crowds” knowledge emerging as a result!

I just received some crucial support from academia for my argument that government agencies should make it a policy to release, on a real-time basis, a wide range of data feeds in RSS, geospatial, and other formats, as the keystone of their e-gov reform projects. A new study from Princeton concluded that there’s nothing a government agency can do to be more responsive to the public than to follow the leads of the District of Columbia.” (they publish more than 150 real-time data feeds)!!

The report’s conclusion:

“Private actors, either non-profit or commercial, are better suited to deliver government information to citizens and can constantly create and reshape the tools individuals use to and and leverage public data. The best way to ensure that the government allows private parties to compete on equal terms in the provision of government data is to require that federal websites themselves use the same open systems for accessing the underlying data as they make available to the public at large.”

More information at D.Stephenson can be reached at stephensonstrategies dot com

1 Comment Open data mash-ups for government

  1. AvatarJames Burke

    The British government recently moved towards making more government data accessible and opening up innovation in creating a website allowing for mashup ideas to be posted, the best of which will get funded. . I’ve been talking with people inside the government in the Netherlands to push initiatives like this forward too. It certainly helped having concrete examples from other countries to make a case.
    UK leadership at a high level is making some serious inroads into opening up data. They just created a service which citizens can call for any data they find locked. If the data submitted passes the freedom of information act, then it will be made available.

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