The Obama Administration today took groundbreaking new steps to make information generated and stored by the Federal Government more open and accessible to innovators and the public, to fuel entrepreneurship and economic growth while increasing government transparency and efficiency.
Today’s actions—including an Executive Order signed by the President and an Open Data Policy released by the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy—declare that information is a valuable national asset whose value is multiplied when it is made easily accessible to the public. The Executive Order requires that, going forward, data generated by the government be made available in open, machine-readable formats, while appropriately safeguarding privacy, confidentiality, and security.
The move will make troves of previously inaccessible or unmanageable data easily available to entrepreneurs, researchers, and others who can use those files to generate new products and services, build businesses, and create jobs.
“One of the things we’re doing to fuel more private sector innovation and discovery is to make vast amounts of America’s data open and easy to access for the first time in history. And talented entrepreneurs are doing some pretty amazing things with it,” said President Barack Obama. “Starting today, we’re making even more government data available online, which will help launch even more new startups. And we’re making it easier for people to find the data and use it, so that entrepreneurs can build products and services we haven’t even imagined yet.”
Later today, President Obama will meet with entrepreneurs at the Capital Factory—a startup incubator—who are already leveraging open government data to create new products and services as part of his new series of Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tours to highlight how a growing, thriving middle class is critical to America’s economic future.
The American economy has consistently benefited when government data have been released to entrepreneurs and other innovators. The public release of weather data from government satellites and ground stations generated an entire economic sector that today includes the Weather Channel, commercial agricultural advisory services, and new insurance options. Similarly, the decision by the US Government to make the Global Positioning System (GPS), once reserved for military use, available for civilian and commercial access, gave rise to GPS-powered innovations ranging from aircraft navigation systems to precision farming to location-based apps, contributing tens of billions of dollars in annual value to the American economy.
And the Administration’s current Health Data Initiative, which has opened government-held data on hospitals, drugs, insurance products, healthcare costs, and more in machine-readable form, has already contributed to hundreds of new products and companies that are transforming health care delivery and improving patient health. Just yesterday, Medicare published data that for the first time gives consumers information on what hospitals charge for common inpatient procedures, signaling a major step forward for hospital price transparency and accountability.
Along with the Executive Order and Open Data Policy, the Administration announced a series of complementary actions:
•A new Data.Gov. In the months ahead, Data.gov, the powerful central hub for open government data, will launch new services that include improved visualization, mapping tools, better context to help locate and understand these data, and robust Application Programming Interface (API) access for developers.
•New open source tools to make data more open and accessible. The US Chief Information Officer and the US Chief Technology Officer are releasing free, open source tools on Github, a site that allows communities of developers to collaboratively develop solutions. This effort, known as Project Open Data, can accelerate the adoption of open data practices by providing plug-and-play tools and best practices to help agencies improve the management and release of open data. For example, one tool released today automatically converts simple spreadsheets and databases into APIs for easier consumption by developers. Anyone, from government agencies to private citizens to local governments and for-profit companies, can freely use and adapt these tools starting immediately.
•Building a 21st century digital government. As part of the Administration’s Digital Government Strategy and Open Data Initiatives in health, energy, education, public safety, finance, and global development, agencies have been working to unlock data from the vaults of government, while continuing to protect privacy and national security. Newly available or improved data sets from these initiatives will be released today and over the coming weeks as part of the one year anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy.
•Continued engagement with entrepreneurs and innovators to leverage government data. The Administration has convened and will continue to bring together companies, organizations, and civil society for a variety of summits to highlight how these innovators use open data to positively impact the public and address important national challenges. In June, Federal agencies will participate in the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, hosted by the nonprofit Health Data Consortium, which will bring together more than 1,800 entrepreneurs, innovators, clinicians, patient advocates, and policymakers for information sessions, presentations, and “code-a-thons” focused on how the power of data can be harnessed to help save lives and improve healthcare for all Americans.
For more information on open data highlights across government visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/library/docsreports