The private sector has been doing an incredible job of creating useful applications for smartphone users. Much of the success and boom of the app economy can ultimately be attributed to Apple pioneering the embedded on-device App Store, and showing the average consumer what a smartphone can do. Apps have been available for a long time before the App Store, but they were always something that only the uber-geek knew about. Other smartphones have done an excellent job of creating an app market for developers including RIM. If there is a problem that a smartphone can help solve, it’s almost guaranteed theses days that someone will create an application and try and make a dollar. But what about government? Your local government can play a crucial role in fostering more useful smartphone applications through a movement called Open Data.
Your local government collects an incredible amount of data on daily basis. Everything from real estate conditions, crime rates, weather reports to public transit schedules and maps. Open data is about taking all of this data and making it available with a license that gives users the right to use the data, merge it with other data sets, modify it, and re-distribute it. Open data is also about encouraging governments to package this data in a format that is easy for programs to read and manipulate.
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