Description: GOVERNMENTS have learned a cheap new way to improve people’s lives. Here is the basic recipe:
Date: March 12, 2011
Take data that you and I have already paid a government agency to collect, and post it online in a way that computer programmers can easily use. Then wait a few months. Voilà! The private sector gets busy, creating Web sites and smartphone apps that reformat the information in ways that are helpful to consumers, workers and companies.
Not surprisingly, San Francisco, with its proximity to Silicon Valley, has been a pioneer in these efforts. For some years, Bay Area transit systems had been tracking the locations of their trains and buses via onboard GPS. Then someone got the bright idea to post that information in real time. Thus the delightful app Routesy was born. Install it on a smartphone and the app can tell you that your bus is stuck in traffic and will be 10 minutes late — or it can help you realize that you are standing on the wrong street, dummy. It gives consumers a great new way to find out when and where the bus is coming, and all at minimal government expense. Read rest of story
Questions for discussion:
- What attributes can make data valuable?
- Is information that goverments collect free? Should it be free to all other users of the data? Why or Why not?