Data and the Web

Archive for February, 2009

AWS Public Data Sets Continues to Expand

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

AWS Public Data Sets ScreenshotPreviously, we posted some information on Amazon’s foray into making huge public data sets available to users of their web services.  Yesterday they announced the addition of some very sizable additions:

If you use AWS, the announcement provides more info on these datasets as well as how to access them.  If you don’t use AWS, you can still access much of this data directly from the websites linked above.

Free E-Gov Conference (via webcast) on February 17, 2009

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

As a follow up to my previous post on e-government, just wanted to let those who are interested know that there’s a free conference offered next week that will get much more in-depth about the initiatives for changing the way government uses and disburses information.  The conference will also have a particular emphasis on using semantic technologies.

Here are the details:

From E-Gov to Connected Governance: the Role of Cloud Computing, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 Semantic Technologies

Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

Morning session: 8:30 am EST to 12:00 noon. Afternoon session: 1:00 pm EST to 4:00 pm EST.

Synopsis:  “We have a new administration that values transparency, citizen participation, collaboration, information sharing, and internet technology… The purpose of this conference is to operationalize this vision, demonstrate the kinds of changes that are coming to next stage web-based systems in government, and to map the role of  information and communication technologies (specifically, cloud computing, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0 semantic technologies) in the evolution of government information systems from e-gov (silos with web front ends) to connected governance (e.g. distributed social computing environments for collaborative work, information sharing, knowledge management, and participatory decision-making.)”

Webcast sign-up here (or, if you are in Washington DC area, you could attend in person)

Further information about the conference can be found here.

More Government Data Coming to a Browser Near You…

Friday, February 6th, 2009

File CatalogIt was intriguing to see how all this newfangled web 2.0 technology was applied during the US presidential campaign this past year (organization, multimedia, etc.).  It’s also quite interesting to hear about some of the big ideas for how the new administration wants to change how government works.  And, not to be outdone, the opposition party is also getting into the Web 2.0 game.

According to Nextgov, it appears that Vivek Kundra, current CTO of the District of Columbia, is going to be given the nod as the next e-government liaison.  From the article:

Kundra also is a strong proponent of giving the public access to government data. “Why does the government keep information secret?” he rhetorically asked during an interview with Nextgov. “Why not put it all out in the government domain?” [Since arriving in Washington], I’ve made all the government databases public. Every 311 call, every abandoned automobile, who has responded, etc. It provides high-level oversight of the daily tasks of government.”

A more in-depth bio of Kundra can be found at this recent Washington Post article.  A couple of the more intriguing things that he promoted in the District of Columbia were the DC Data Catalog and “Apps for Democracy.”

The data catalog covers all kinds of DC data from  crime statistics to — ahem — most recent roadkill pickups.  It’s also available in a wide variety of formats. The “Apps for Democracy” was a kind of mashup contest to see what kind of apps could be developed to improve DC resident’s access to data.  It was highly successful, providing 47 different applications for a fraction of the cost of formally contracting out these projects.

Of course, changing such a huge, bureaucratic system as the Federal government will not happen overnight, but it is encouraging to see more of a focus on making data available in a timely manner (and in usable formats).

For those interested in this sort of thing, I’d also recommend checking out the Sunlight Foundation, which is focused on government transparency.  Also, TechPresident and Nextgov are both news sources focused on following all things e-gov.

Got any other interesting links on this topic?  Please feel free to post ‘em in the comments below.

About

Data and the Web is a blog by Kirix about accessing and working with data, wherever it is located. We have a particular fondness for data usability, ad hoc analysis, mashups, web APIs and, of course, playing around with our data browser.