A listserve post this week from inside the EPA indicates that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is trying to encourage software developers to use its data to make useful applications about the environment and human health.
The U.S is farther ahead than Canada on open government and open data. South of the border, the Open Government Initiative encourages federal agencies to make data more accessible so it can be used in innovative and helpful ways. EPA makes a lot of its original data more accessible via this site, but many software developers who create innovative open-access applications for the public out of public data don’t even know it exists. They also don’t know that agencies encourage this kind of activity.
Other agencies, like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have made their data available and done a great job of building awareness about their data (see the Community Health Data Initiative and the Health Data Community). The U.S. Department of Agriculture sponsored a challenge called Apps for Healthy Kids that encouraged developers to make apps to keep kids healthy.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. wants ideas for how they can better reach software developers and the people who would use these applications.
North of the border we need to be pressuring Canadian government to open up more of our data to the citizens who pay for it, and to better use our tax dollars by connecting with altruistic open data developers who are ready and willing to create applications for the public good.