Monday, December 7, 2009

Local Governments Offer Data to Miners

Many local governments are turning over big chunks of data to programmers to create useful Web sites and apps.

San Francisco, New York and Washington have all organized contests to encourage software developers to create applications with their data. And the developers are using the data to build businesses. Stamen, for example, uses Crimespotting to show potential clients what it could create for them. Other firms are selling the iPhone apps they have built.

The cities, meanwhile, are to some degree using developers to provide citizens with a service so they do not have to.

"We are increasingly governing in a time when the demand for services exceeds our resources," said Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the United States. If the contests "spur dozens of innovative applications," he said, "then we’ve essentially achieved a policy objective at virtually no cost."

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