LIRNEasia in partnership with Lanka Software Foundation and several other partners has spent a lot of time figuring out how we could catalyze the growth of useful apps on mobiles, in connection with a project proposal we just submitted. Unlocking the wealth of data sitting inside government, as described in this op-ed by Richard Thaler is a great way to go. The US is doing it. Can we get our governments also to follow?
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.
Another example involves weather data produced by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The forecasts you find on the Weather Channel, or on the evening news or online, use the agency’s information. Again, the government produces and releases raw data, and the private sector transforms it into something useful for the public.