Open government: It's the community, not the data
While governments of all sizes are jumping on the open government bandwagon – releasing mountains of data in an attempt to improve public services and encourage new businesses -- they are finding that posting the data is the easy part. Getting people to find meaningful, profitable ways to repurpose the data is a tougher nut to crack. A recent conference sponsored by Future Tense (and discussed by the New America Foundation) highlighted a few successful strategies.
In Boston, the office of New Urban Mechanics used the city's data to improve credit scores in communities. A Brazilian community was identified as having low scores, but it turns out the people were financially literate, but tended not to use banks – thereby causing the low credit scores. A partnership with researchers at MIT delivered apps to help people record their transactions in a way that would boost their credit scores.
San Francisco regularly organizes hackathons that, while not always producing useful apps, tend to engage developers, getting them to imagine new ways that government data can solve a community's problems or create a business.
Context and community engagement (not the data) need to be the drivers of the open government movement.
Posted by GCN Staff on Sep 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM