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Open Data and Civic Apps: First-Generation Failures, Second-Generation Improvements

Open Data and Civic Apps, illustration

On his first day in office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the "Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government," asking government agencies to make their data open and available to the public.4 The aim was to provide transparency in government and improve provision of services through new technologies developed on the backbone of civic open data.5 Transparency was achieved through a public data catalog that was the most comprehensive at the time, providing such information as real-time crime feeds, school test scores, and air-quality metrics. However, as of May 2010, only one year later, few citizens had make the effort to comb through the more than 272,000 datasets they had been provided.6

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In response, leaders of the open data movement sought to engage code developers to make the information not only more digestible for greater transparency but also incorporate it into applications, services, and businesses that could better serve the public and foster economic growth.

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