Earlier this summer, I participated in Convergence 2013 in Paris with Christian Frisch, cofounder and CTO of Data Publica. In our session, we discussed the evolution of open data programs looking at the changing goals of cities and other public sector organizations as well as the persistent challenges they face.
The momentum for open government and open data has certainly grown over the past few years. The initial push for open data was to know exactly where the government was spending money. With the economic downturn of 2008, that was imperative — and still is. In the US, USAspending.gov and Recovery.gov published government budgets and allocation of spending from the US Recovery Act. In the UK, Where Does My Money Go? similarly publishes government spending by department and region. Yet open data does more than increase transparency and accountability. We’ve seen some great strides in civic innovation — new apps for finding out when the bus is coming or where the nearest toilets are. Open data generates business innovation as well — new lines of business for existing companies and new startup businesses in a wide range of industries from healthcare to real estate to financial services.