When the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced its call for 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows last summer, US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park also asked folks across the country to support these Fellows with great ideas and valuable feedback.
Over the past few months, through video chats, conference calls, and in-person meetings, thousands of Americans have connected with us to learn and share ideas about our work—and this Administration’s commitment—to unleash data from the vaults of the government as fuel for innovation. Time and again, we were asked why more people weren’t aware of these “Open Data” efforts, their numerous benefits for Americans, and how to get engaged.
After hearing this feedback, we had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled.
On scrap paper, we sketched out a simple one-page website that would tell the story of Open Data: Alpha.Data.gov. As the name suggests, this is an experimental release. Over time, it will grow and evolve to help catalyze future improvements to the design, content, and infrastructure of Data.gov.
In the meantime, think of Alpha.Data.gov as a first draft. To make it better, we need your help. We’ve seen firsthand that your feedback, ideas, and stories can spur new Open Data innovations. So please send your feedback to @ProjectOpenData on Twitter. And if you’re a front-end designer or front-end developer, we’d love to get your feedback directly on GitHub, so that we can design this collaboratively.
2013 promises to be a busy year for Open Data efforts at The White House and across government. But this story isn’t just about us. It’s about what we can all do together to spur game-changing innovation through the application of Open Data.
To learn more about the Presidential Innovation Fellows, please visit: WhiteHouse.gov/InnovationFellows
Danny Chapman is a Presidential Innovation Fellow working on MyGov at the General Services Administration.
Ryan Panchadsaram is a Presidential Innovation Fellow working on Blue Button for America at the Department of Health and Human Services.
John Paul Farmer is a Senior Advisor at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.