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Increasing Access to Data with Public-Private Partnerships

Leigh Budlong, Founder of Zonability, and Andrew Budlong, an Advisor for Zonability, give the reasoning on the importance of partnering with institutions or non-profits in which innovative technology products from the private sector are supportive of social missions.

Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.

Being named a Champion of Change opens the door to partner with non-profit entities that are publicly visibility. Why? Because while there is genuine interest in making successful businesses from open data, funding the research and development may very well be optimal from grants rather than angels or venture money.

There are a few reasons for this rational.  First, access to data is a constant threat to developers working with open data. Governments have a long standing working relationships with nonprofits and they are far more comfortable providing them with data rather than for-profit companies. Second, the public awareness around open data dovetails well within the charters of non-profits. Third, and perhaps most interesting, are the connections being studied between cities with open data apps to make life better and elections of officials promoting their development and use.

For Zonability, we foresee the need to partner with institutions or non-profits in which our products are supportive of their mission. Educating people about a fundamental like zoning can be fun. We can focus on creating data and make it available via APIs while a strategic partner non profit can focus on what they do, namely engaging people.

That to me is an ideal goal for a public-private partnership and is something we will be striving to achieve as this eventful year continues!

Leigh Budlong is President of Beyond Value, Inc., and Founder of Zonability, an iPhone app for helping San Francisco homebuyers, renters, remodelers and others answer zoning questions about various properties. Andrew Budlong is an Advisor for Zonability.