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2/1/2012
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Data.gov Delivers Government Apps, Data For Businesses

Site promises to be 'your front door' to government data, apps, and tools useful to businesses; includes data sets and resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Top 10 Open Government Websites
Top 10 Open Government Websites
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

The list of topic-specific communities on the federal Data.gov site is growing quickly. Barely a week after a new education community went live on the site, the feds have added a new Business Data Community for business-oriented data sets and resources.

The Business Data Community is aimed at providing data and other resources to support innovation and job growth among U.S. businesses. "This site is your front door to the data, apps, and tools the government has to offer your business," it reads.

The community has specific subsections for small businesses, application developers, and exporters, providing data and other resources aimed specifically at these users.

Like the other topic-specific communities that have been added to the federal open-data repository in recent months, the business site includes tabs for data and tools, applications, challenges, and forums, all focused on the community's specific topic.

The apps section, for example, offers a range of mobile applications to promote businesses from both the consumer and business-owner perspectives.

[ Data.gov is moving to the cloud. See GSA Moving USA.gov, Data.gov To Public Cloud. ]

One iPhone app, "Everything for the Entrepreneur," allows aspiring business owners to search opportunities for federal Small Business Innovation Research grants, which provide funds for new business ideas. Another, "Eat, Shop, Sleep," provides local-business information to travelers searching for amenities in a specific region.

Forums business users can participate in via the community include discussions on government data for customer service, ways users can help make others successful by suggesting new challenge topics, and applications that can support entrepreneurs.

The feds launched Data.gov in May 2009 as a central repository for data sets of government information in the first major transparency move mandated by President Obama. One of the early criticisms of the site was that finding and using data was difficult, so the administration has tried to solve the problem by adding communities and tools for visualizing and mapping data. The site also has evolved from merely a repository to a platform for new applications created from data and tools on the site.

In addition to the recently added business and education communities, Data.gov also has communities for law, energy, http://www.data.gov/communities/ocean>ocean and health data.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on InformationWeek.com. Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

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