OPEN GOVERNMENT — "For all the lofty statements made during the first day of the Gov
2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C., about opening up government and its
vast reservoirs of data to improve democracy and citizen engagement, it
was clear there would be one major winner: GIS," writes Tod Newcombe in govtech.com.
The math is simple. According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Federal Enterprise Architecture
framework, 74 percent of government data is location based. At the
state and local level, the number is even higher: 80 percent, according
to several organizations and publications.
The summit's program co-chair, Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of
O'Reilly Media Inc., gives two major reasons why government must be
viewed as a platform: The public sector built two of the most important
digital infrastructures: the Internet and GPS.
"The government built
these platforms and the private sector ran with them," he concluded.
Just as important is the fact that government has also become a major
beneficiary of both platforms.
On Wednesday, federal CTO Aneesh Chopra announced that President
Barack Obama's administration plans to release its long-awaited Open Government Directive, which will require federal agencies to set standards for providing data in machine-readable formats to the public.
But the effects of serving up chunks of government data, especially
geospatial data, for reuse is already evident, and the results were on
display in Washington yesterday.
The so-called godfather of GIS, Jack Dangermond, founder and president of mapping giant ESRI,
put it best: "Geospatial information is pervasive in the public
sector," he said. "It has improved planning, management,
decision-making and the tracking of assets."
Dangermond tipped his hat to the feds for going further than any
sector of government when it comes to sharing geospatial data.
judging by the lion's-share of presentations made on Wednesday, local
uses for maps and data have grabbed the largest amount of attention.Take for example, FixMyStreet, an application developed by the British-based open source project, MySociety.org.
FixMyStreet lets people report, view and discuss local problems based
on mapping mash-ups. This organization has other applications based on
civic engagement, but the mapping efforts, such as FixMyStreet, are
Then there's EveryBlock.com,
a hyperlocal news service that relies on location-based data to inform
viewers about crimes, restaurant inspections and new permits, all mixed
in with news and information provided by bloggers and volunteer
Dangermond delivered a compelling demonstration of how quick and
easy government workers and ordinary citizens can blend geospatial data
from federal, state and local government databases to create
analytically powerful maps.
With the aid of an assistant, he pulled up a map of a massive fire
in progress in Southern California and then proceeded to add layers of
parcel data as well as information about health and emergency services
to create a detailed map of potential danger zones for residents, as
well as the nearest locations for disaster services. It was a powerful
statement about the potential for open government geospatial