ENTRIES TAGGED "government as a platform"

Panjiva uses government data to build a global search engine for commerce

Successful startups look to solve a problem first, then look for the datasets they need.

“If you go back to how we got started,” mused Josh Green, “government data really is at the heart of that story.” Green, who co-founded Panjiva with Jim Psota in 2006, was demonstrating the newest version of Panjiva.com to me over the web, thinking back to the startup’s origins in Cambridge, Mass.

At first blush, the search engine for products, suppliers and shipping services didn’t have a clear connection to the open data movement I’d been chronicling over the past several years. His account of the back story of the startup is a case study that aspiring civic entrepreneurs, Congress and the White House should take to heart.

“I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs who start with datasets,” said Green, “but it’s hard to start with datasets and build business. You’re better off starting with a problem that needs to be solved and then going hunting for the data that will solve it. That’s the experience I had.”

The problem that the founders of Panjiva wanted to help address was one that many other entrepreneurs face: how do you connect with companies in far away places? Green came to the realization that a better solution was needed in the same way that many people who come up with an innovative idea do: he had a frustrating experience and wanted to scratch his own itch. When he was working at an electronics company earlier in his career, his boss asked him to find a supplier they could do business with in China.

“I thought I could do that, but I was stunned by the lack of reliable information,” said Green. “At that moment, I realized we were talking about a problem that should be solvable. At a time when people are interested in doing business globally, there should be reliable sources of information. So, let’s build that.”

Today, Panjiva has created a higher tech way to find overseas suppliers. The way they built it, however, deserves more attention.

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Tracking the data storm around Hurricane Sandy

When natural disasters loom, public open government data feeds become critical infrastructure.

Just over fourteen months ago, social, mapping and mobile data told the story of Hurricane Irene. As a larger, more unusual late October storm churns its way up the East Coast, the people in its path are once again acting as sensors and media, creating crisis data as this “Frankenstorm” moves over them.

Hurricane Sandy is seen on the east coast of the United States in this NASA handout satellite image taken at 0715 GMT, October 29, 2012.

[Photo Credit: NASA}

As citizens look for hurricane information online, government websites are under high demand. In late 2012, media, government, the private sector and citizens all now will play an important role in sharing information about what’s happening and providing help to one another.

In that context, it’s key to understand that it’s government weather data, gathered and shared from satellites high above the Earth, that’s being used by a huge number of infomediaries to forecast, predict and instruct people about what to expect and what to do. In perhaps the most impressive mashup of social and government data now online, an interactive Google Crisis Map for Hurricane Sandy pictured below predicts the future of the ‘Frankenstorm’ in real-time, including a NYC-specific version.

If you’re looking for a great example of public data for public good, these maps like the Weather Underground’s interactive are a canonical example of what’s possible.

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mHealth apps are just the beginning of the disruption in healthcare from open health data

Rockstars from music, government and industry convened around healthcare at the 2012 Health Datapalooza

Two years ago, the potential of government making health information as useful as weather data may well have felt like an abstraction to many observers. In June 2012, real health apps and services are here, holding the potential to massive disrupt healthcare for the better.

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US CTO seeks to scale agile thinking and open data across federal government

US CTO seeks to scale agile thinking and open data across federal government

Todd Park is looking for Presidential Innovation Fellows to help government work better.

In this interview, U.S. chief technology officer Todd Park lays out his ambitious agenda to apply technology in the public interest. Park has introduced new presidential fellowships and programs to scale open data across the federal government, releasing more health information and making digital government citizen-centric.

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Help drive the data revolution in health care

Help drive the data revolution in health care

The goal of the Health Data Initiative is to be the NOAA of health data.

The Health Data Initiative’s annual “Health Datapalooza” is behing held June 5-6 in Washington, D.C. The deadline for applications is just a few weeks away (March 30).

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White House to open source Data.gov as open government data platform

White House to open source Data.gov as open government data platform

The new "Data.gov in a box" could empower countries to build their own platforms.

A partnership between the United States and India on open government has borne fruit: progress on making the open data platform Data.gov open source. With this step forward, the prospects are brighter for stimulating economic activity, civic utility and accountability under a global open government partnership.

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Coding the middleware for government data

Max Ogden makes a pitch for more data and better open government patches.

Code for America Fellow Max Ogden's pitch for better "open government middleware" at the first Ignite Gov highlights the complexity of open data, along with the opportunities for civic hackers to co-create smarter government.

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