Open Data 500 wants examples of private sector business turning government data into profits and useful services.
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A team of open government advocates, led by former White House aide Beth Novek, has launched a campaign to identify 500 examples of how freely available government data is being put to profitable use in the private sector.
Open Data 500 is part of a broader effort by New York University's Governance Lab (GovLab) to conduct the "first real, comprehensive study of the use of open government data in the private sector," said Joel Gurin, founder of OpenDataNow.com and senior adviser at GovLab.
Novek, who served in the White House as the first U.S. deputy CTO and led the White House Open Government Initiative from 2009-2011, founded GovLab while also teaching at the MIT Media Lab and NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
In an interview with InformationWeek Government, Gurin explained that the goal of GovLab, and the Open Data 500 project, is to show how technology and new uses of data can make government more effective, and create more of a partnership between government and the public. "We're also trying to draw on more public expertise to solve government problems," he said.
"We're very interested in how open data can be used in any number of ways, for greater transparency around government spending to ways to improve society and peoples' lives," said Gurin, who served as chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs bureau at the Federal Communications Commission and chaired a White House task force on smart disclosure before returning to the private sector last year.
Gurin said Open Data 500 will primarily look at U.S.-based, revenue-producing companies or organizations where government data is a key resource for their business. While the GovLab will focus initially on the use of federal data, it will also look at cases where entrepreneurs are making use of state or local data, but in scalable fashion.
"This goes one step further than the datapaloozas" championed by U.S. CTO Todd Park to showcase tools developed by the private sector using government data. "We're trying to show how we can make data sets even more impactful and useful."
Gurin said the GovLab team hopes to complete the study by the end of this year. The team has already identified 150 companies as candidates. To submit your company for consideration, visit thegovlab.org/submit-your-company; to submit another company, visit thegovlab.org/open500.
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