Open Data Needs Champions

If you’ve spent any time on a subway platform or at a bus stop lately, you may have witnessed one of the great success stories of open government data.

All of those people checking the arrival and departure times of trains, trolleys and buses are consuming applications built with open transit data.

transit

It’s a great example of how open data has changed (and continues to change) the way we use public transit, and the role of transit agencies in developing consumer-facing applications.

There is a really interesting post over on the Google “Policy by the Numbers” blog that examines some of the reasons that open transit data has had such a dramatic impact in places where it has been embraced (h/t to O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard for the link).

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Do Hackathons and Civic Hacking Matter?

There are lots of smart people asking tough questions about civic hacking and hackathons as the new year begins – a new year that promises to see lots of action on the civic hacking front.

I think this is a good thing. The more we examine how civic hackathons work and the more we evaluate what they produce, the better we’ll get at running them and the more we’ll all get out of them.

A lot happened in the world of civic hacking, open data and hackathons in 2011. But does all of this activity matter? Are the events and activities we are seeing in the civic hacking space making a lasting difference? Is the civic hackathon a construct that we will see used in the long run to promote new ideas and lasting civic change?

In a word, yes. Let me explain.

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