I'm happy to announce that the U.S. Federal Government earlier today launched the new Data.Gov website. The primary goal of Data.Gov is to improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas (e.g., web applications). Data.gov strives to make government more transparent and is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. The openness derived from Data.gov will strengthen the Nation's democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
As a priority Open Government Initiative for President Obama's administration, Data.gov increases the ability of the public to easily find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held by the Federal Government. Data.gov provides descriptions of the Federal datasets (metadata), information about how to access the datasets, and tools that leverage government datasets. The data catalogs will continue to grow as datasets are added. Federal, Executive Branch data are included in the first version of Data.gov.
Public participation and collaboration will be one of the keys to the success of Data.gov. Data.gov enables the public to participate in government by providing downloadable Federal datasets to build applications, conduct analyses, and perform research. Data.gov will continue to improve based on feedback, comments, and recommendations from the public and is activily encouraging individuals to suggest datasets they'd like to see, rate and comment on current datasets.
In a recent interview on NextGov.com, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra shed some details on Data.Gov & Open Government Initiative. "We recognize the power of tapping into the ingenuity of the American people and recognize that government doesn't have a monopoly on the best ideas or always have the best idea on finding an innovative path to solving the toughest problems the country faces. By democratizing data and making it available to the public and private sector ... we can tap into that ingenuity."
One of the most telling aspects of the new Data.Gov website is the Data policy which outlines a broad usage policy which states data accessed through Data.gov do not, and should not, include controls over its end use. In a sense the U.S. federal government has open sourced large portions of public information. It will be very interesting to see how people use this fountain of information.