There Must be an App for that…

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012 View Count = 905

There Must be an App for that…

by Meghan Roberts, VP Brainmaven

As governments begin to open up their data sets for public use, the stage is set for citizen-led Innovation. Do you have an idea to leverage government data for the public good? If so, Brainmaven wants to hear it!

Advances in technology have raised the bar for Open Government. In 2012, we expect proactive disclosure of government information in searchable, fully accessible online databases; timely release of open-license government data in machine-readable formats that we can re-use and repurpose for our own needs; and ongoing engagement through Web 2.0 technologies to give us a stronger voice in policy development.

In Canada, long before the federal government announced its Open Government Action plan and launched, its pilot open data site, a few provinces and several municipalities embraced open government principles to promote transparency and accountability. In an effort to benchmark what is being done at the provincial/territorial level, the Stratford Institute for Digital Media, in partnership with Brainmaven, recently released a report comparing open government initiatives in three streams: Open Information, Open Data and Open Dialogue. While British Columbia has the most sophisticated and coordinated open government strategy, several provincial and territorial governments are fulfilling some aspects of Open Data, Open Information, and/or Open Dialogue.

Now that we have access to data, what are we going to do with it?
As more and more governments use the web to release information and data, the stage is set for citizen-led innovation: using the available government data to create applications that serve the public good. We call these Citizen-Apps. Having completed our objective evaluation of open government initiatives, we are now opening up the conversation and asking the public – anyone from interested citizens to budding app developers – to help us envision what types of online applications could be possible if we had a truly open government. As part of the Citizen-App Challenge, we are asking:

If government data were openly available, what web or mobile application would you want built?
This is not a hackathon and experience in building apps is not a prerequisite. All you need is a seed of an idea and if you don’t have your own you can contribute by collaborating with others and voting up your favourite ideas. After the challenge closes on June 8, 2012, top voted ideas will be presented to the federal government's Advisory Committee on Open Government.

We’ve already collected some great ideas, for example:

Backbencher: Real-time twitter feed of parliamentary debates with opportunities for public voting, input and dialogue.

MakeThemWorkForYou - Politician Database: searchable info including: biography, contact, ward, voting records, finances, news, social media and provide direct connection through various forms of contact.

Online Access to Information (ATI): A central website for sending ATI requests to provincial & federal public bodies with tips, notifications, templates, etc.

We know there are more ways government data can be used to create better-informed citizens, stronger communities and more effective government services. We want to hear your ideas! Share them on today.

About Brainmaven –

Brainmaven is revolutionizing the way people collaborate to generate solutions. We help companies, governments and other organizations become more innovative by engaging the creativity of their ecosystems.

About the Stratford Institute for Digital Media -

The Stratford Institute conducts research, encourages debate, organizes consultations, and serves as a place of assembly, open discussion, and continuing conversation related to Canada’s prospects as a digital nation.

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